Valley agriculture producers facing problems exporting products

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- One-hundred percent of the cotton grown in California, mostly in the Valley, is exported overseas.

Growers had a good crop but only 20% of it has been shipped out due to the backlog in the ports.

Cotton bales are often loaded at the Port of Oakland, but foreign shipping companies have only been stopping at the LA and Long Beach ports.

"They want empties back so they can refill them and bring them right back, so they don't want to come to Oakland to pick up our exports, to take our exports back to southeast Asia," says Roger Isom, CEO of both the California Cotton Ginners and Growers Association and Western Agricultural Processors Association.

Clothing sales have rebounded after a year and a half slowdown, but cotton growers haven't been able to take advantage.

"The prices are at all-time highs," Isom said. "We wish we could be moving every bale of cotton right now."

Seventy percent of the almonds, pistachios and walnuts grown in the Valley are also exported.

Fresno County Farm Bureau CEO Ryan Jacobsen says it's painful to see growers unable to get their product to eager markets.

"You're hearing just astronomical fees to get products shipped right now," he said. "Those boats are trying to get out of here as quickly as possible to pick up from the foreign countries to come back to the US. They're not overly interested in trying to take products back."

As a result, many Valley warehouses and processing plants are still full of nuts and cotton. Growers are hoping to see less port congestion and more ships available to export their goods.

"This is a hot time of year," Jacobsen said. "I mean, there's holiday seasons across the globe and the fact that we're not able to fulfill some of these consumer demands is a frustration for local farmers."
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