Business leaders on Wednesday called on the Biden administration to consider new approaches to alleviate severe pressure on supply chains, including deploying the National Guard to address bottlenecks, the CEO of the Consumer Brands Association, Geoff Freeman.
Freeman, whose trade group represents Coca-Cola, Kellogg and Campbell Soup, participated in a virtual panel discussion chaired by Vice President Kamala Harris and said discussions with the administration were in their infancy. .
“We must not neglect anything,” said Freeman, who described the supply chains as being in “crisis”.
Business leaders have made several proposals to ease the pressure, including “targeted use of the National Guard,” Freeman said. He added that the National Guard could be used to address bottlenecks wherever they form, including removing cargo from ships or removing cargo from shipyards.
“Everyone I speak to in the consumer packaged goods industry believes the pressure will only intensify in the months to come,” Freeman said.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the National Guard’s proposal.
Supply chain stress delays the shipment of goods, leaves shelves empty and drives up prices. Consumer prices rose 5.4% in August from a year ago, the fastest pace since 2008.
Freeman said other ideas mentioned during the meeting included a temporary visa and the use of pre-authorized funding to alleviate a shortage of workers – including truck drivers.
The White House said on Wednesday it would work with businesses and ports on a “90-day sprint” to ease bottlenecks. Significantly, the Port of Los Angeles will transition to 24/7 service, bringing it in line with Port of Long Beach operations. These two ports handle 40% of container traffic in the United States – and both have been affected by severe congestion.
“We are delighted today to see the administration’s urgency to focus on challenges within the supply chain,” Freeman told CNN. “All the credit goes to them for having recognized the need to have this constant public and private cooperation. “
Freeman said the move to 24/7 in ports would help and was appreciated, but added that it was the “fruit at hand” and that it was a “relatively obvious next step” given that many overseas ports are already doing this.
“Getting the goods off the ship is part of the process. We then need a truck to assemble them. We need the pilots, ”said Freeman.
Business leaders have also offered to host a weekly war room with government officials to resolve supply chain issues before they turn into full-blown crises.
“Their response was, ‘Once a week is not enough. We want to do it three times a week, ”Freeman said. “I give them a lot of credit for having this emergency.”