Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) aims to deem the Port of Oswego as qualified for a designation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to export grain to other countries around the world for the first time.
According to Schumer, the port imports 10 million bushels of grain, composed of soybeans, corn and wheat each year. Then that gets sent to companies, some as far away as Virginia, that export them abroad because the Port of Oswego is not qualified to do so.
“Each and every day, goods like aluminum, cement and salt come in and out of the Port of Oswego, so it makes no sense why grains can come in but cannot be shipped out,” Schumer said. “The inability to export grains is a lost opportunity for the Port and the entire Central New York economy, and I am calling on the USDA to remedy the situation. SUNY Oswego and the Port have come up with a common-sense solution to provide the weighing and testing required in order for grains to be exported. Now all we need is the green light from the USDA. We should not be shipping goods and jobs down to Virginia when there is the need and capability right here. That is why I am calling on the USDA to work with the Port and SUNY to identify the best way to make grain exports a reality. This designation would bring in jobs at the port, on nearby farms and at the companies that count on the Port each day; and it would provide one-of-a-kind opportunities to students and faculty at SUNY Oswego. I will fight tooth and nail to get this done.”
According to Perdue, one of the companies that handles the grain coming from Oswego, the company is expected to handle 10 million bushels of grain this year because of a productive harvest. Schumer said the Port of Oswego would stand to profit and benefit immensely if it were able to help export these grains.
“Sen. Schumer’s push on behalf of the Port of Oswego not only makes sense but is something we’ve been working toward for a long time coming,” said Port of Oswego Director Zelko Kirincich. “The senator has been working with us for several years now to turn the page on new chapters of success. Whether it was dredging funds or totally upgrading our rail and infrastructure, Sen. Schumer has delivered a silo of resources that has gotten us to the point where we are ready to solicit this request with the USDA.”
The New York senator appeared recently on the Oswego State campus and spoke to biology and chemistry students at a press conference in the Shineman Center. Schumer insisted that the college would play a major role if the port began exporting to other countries.
“There is a great collaboration in the works between both the university and the port that—if we can turn it into a reality—would increase commerce, create jobs and be a tremendous lift for the local economy here in Oswego,” Schumer said. “SUNY Oswego has the tools, talent and technology to conduct the required weighing and inspections, and the Port of Oswego has the need.”
According to the biology department, a USDA designation would also initiate new research opportunities for faculty and students on the campus.
The initiative is not yet definite, but Schumer said he would begin by discussing it with Tom Vilsack, the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.
In his letter to the USDA regarding a designation for the port, Schumer wrote, “The capabilities of the Port of Oswego have recently been expanded. New rail lines and area infrastructure are being installed. This is equipping the port to handle millions of tons of export capacity as opposed to extending the supply chain queue far beyond the state of New York, as things currently stand. This situation is costing the port potential clients and remains an overall opportunity loss we must address. Additionally, with a state academic institution at the ready to assist the USDA, and with the experience to do so, it would make sense to explore a working model with this bustling upstate New York port.”