Agriculture Community Works To Recover From Port Slowdown - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Agriculture Community Works To Recover From Port Slowdown

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 YAKIMA, WA.- Labor issues at the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma made it next to impossible for local growers and shippers to get their products shipped, but now that the strikes over where does that leave our local agricultural community?

We spoke with the Washington State Fruit Association Monday afternoon and they told us it could take years to recover from the affects of the strike. 

“There was talk, people saying they lost $1 million a day during the strike and that money can never be recouped, because the fruit is perishable,” Local grower from Zillah, Gail Puryear said.     

Officials at the Washington State Fruit Association estimate between 200,000 and 300,000 boxes of apples a week were not sold because of the port slow down, so it's good news it's reopened, but according to them it will take years to get back the credibility they had with foreign customers.

“It hurt our long term relations, customers want to know that United States shippers are reliable customers and when we have something as embarrassing as our entire West Coast port system shut down it hurts our credibility in dealing with those foreign customers,” Jon DeVaney, President of the Washington State Fruit Association said.

Washington State saw one of its largest crops of apples to date this past fall so the port closure hurt their industry, but it wasn't just apple growers and shippers affected. Gail Puryear owns Bonair Winery in Zillah and he said the port slow down caused shipments of bottles and wine barrels to be delayed. 

“The last port strike happened in the summer and it caused a real delay on getting our barrels for harvest. It's just critical that the shipments go in and come out.”

The Washington Fruit Association said they'll be working closely with port managers and Federal and State officials to make sure something like this doesn't happen again and they can start the road to recovery.

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