USDA Grain Transportation Report 2 (9/29): FMC Seeks Input on “Unreasonable Refusal to Deal” Definition

According to today's USDA Grain Transportation Report, the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) has requested public comment on how to define an ocean carrier’s unreasonable refusal to deal or negotiate regarding vessel space accommodation.

The definitions of “refusal to deal” and “vessel space accommodation” are central to a proposed FMC rule, as mandated by the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022 and explained in a notice of public rulemaking.

According to the proposed rule, FMC would determine carriers’ unreasonable refusal on a case-by-case basis. For example, because many ocean carriers have had their vessels depart the United States with shiploads of empty containers, many agricultural producers are unable to secure transport for their exports.

Also, per the rule, the burden of proving an unreasonable refusal would shift from the shipper to the carrier. Stakeholders are welcome to comment on the rule until October 13.

Read the full report here.