Photo courtesy: Columbian.com
As Washington state grain inspectors refuse to enter United Grain Corporation’s export terminal at the Port of Vancouver, pressure is growing to have the inspections resume with federal employees.
State inspectors say they’re unwilling to resume work because of threats made by Longshore union members to inspectors who cross picket lines. The inspectors had been escorted into the facility by the State Patrol since October, but Washington governor Jay Inslee halted the escorts July 7th because of lack of progress in talks between the I.L.W.U. and United Grain. The company locked-out the union early last year in a dispute over hiring.
Clark county sheriff Garry Lucas tells The Columbian he turned-down an offer from United Grain that would have paid his office to provide escorts. Lucas says law enforcement’s role in such disputes must be neutral.
According to Mateusz Perkowski, who covers Northwest farming for Capital Press.Com, nearly half of all the grain that America ships to Japan goes through United Grain’s export facility in Vancouver.
Perkowski says the wheat harvest is underway. And that inventories are building because grain is not being inspected. Perkowski says that could bring-down wheat prices and damage America’s reputation as reliable trading partner. Many farmers are depending on prices high enough to help them meet expenses.