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Savannah becomes the king of US agricultural exports

The port of Savannah became the top port in the United States for the export of containerised agricultural goods.

In 2019, agriculture accounted for 60% of Savannah’s exports, which translates to more than 843,000TEU. Forest products such as wood pulp, paper and logs made up the largest category of goods, followed by clay, cotton and poultry. For the fiscal year to date (July 2019-May 2020), total loaded exports have increased by 15,500TEU to 1.33 million TEU.

“Agriculture is a major driver for Georgia’s economy, contributing US$74 billion in annual economic benefits and nearly 400,000 jobs across the state,” highlighted Georgia governor Brian Kemp.

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Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) says that during the pandemic, it has focused on ensuring both chassis and empty containers are available to support the movement of export commodities.

Through its association with the South Atlantic Chassis Pool II and the completion of a new on-terminal chassis yard, the Port of Savannah provides customers with access to the largest chassis pool in the Southeast. In addition, GPA’s team has focused on cargo owners and other contacts to ensure a reliable supply of containers, according to an announcement.

“The production of raw material and agricultural goods, along with their supply chains, have remained strong throughout the pandemic,” stated GPA executive director Griff Lynch. “The powerful commitment by the agricultural sector mirrors that of GPA’s employees, the International Longshoremen’s Association and the rest of our maritime logistics community.”

On-terminal projects to expand export capacity have continued throughout the crisis, including the Mason Mega Rail, with the first nine of 18 new working tracks complete and two new rail-mounted gantry cranes slated to begin work in July.

GPA’s inland terminal, the Appalachian Regional Port, has seen increased volumes and export commodities coming from Northwest Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama. At the Port of Savannah, GPA has increased its on-time performance of vessel operations to achieve its best performance in three years.

On 24 June Lynch addressed a webinar of more than 125 agricultural exporters, mainly members of the Agriculture Transportation Coalition (AgTC), which advocates on transportation policy as it impacts US farmers. The largest organisation of its kind, AgTC members include agriculture exporters and importers, freight forwarders, agriculture trade associations, and the state departments of agriculture.

Peter Friedmann, executive director of AgTC stated, "For our members, the cost-effective movement of goods is a key factor in the profitability of farm and processor operations; working with the leadership of the nation’s international gateways, such as Port of Savannah, serves the mutual interests of the port and agricultural exporters in growing cargo volumes."

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