Members of the US House of Representatives voted Tuesday to reject an amendment to its version of the Highway bill, or the Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2015, the addition would have included changes for some trucking weight requirements, said officials with the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) and National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA).
"The American Feed Industry Association expressed disappointment today with last night's full House vote rejecting the inclusion of the SAFE Trucking Act as an amendment to the highway reauthorization bill, 187 to 236,” said Richard Sellers, AFIA senior vice president of legislative and regulatory affairs.
Other organizations, including the National Grain and Feed Association and American Soybean Association (ASA), shared similar positions.
“We were disappointed with that outcome and the missed opportunity to improve transportation efficiency, which would reduce cost for soybean farmers, and make them more competitive domestically and in global markets,” said Tom Hance, Washington representative with the ASA.
The amendment, brought by Wisconsin Representative Reid Ribble would have given states the ability to internally increase a six-axle truck’s weight allowance when using interstate highways, said Sellers.
"The Ribble amendment was the light at the end of the tunnel to our members, as full truck loads would improve efficiency when shipping commodities, while reducing the number of trucks on our interstate highways,” Sellers said.
Weight limits for federal highways are less than what many states allow for trucks on state roads, said Max Fisher NGFA director of economics and government relations. The weight limits were set in 1982.
“The Safe, Flexible, and Efficient Trucking Act would allow trucks to carry an additional 11,000 pounds of weight on federal highways while adhering to US Department of Transportation safety guidelines,” he said. “Under the bill, states could increase truck weight limits on interstate system highways within their borders to 91,000 pounds as long as those trucks are equipped with an additional sixth axle.”
Support for the proposed changes stemmed from the understanding that they would improve transportation times and reduce costs for producers, making them more competitive, Hance told FeedNavigator.
About half of the US soybean crop is exported, which means American producers needs to be able to compete in a global market, he said. The ability to move products more quickly and cheaply has been an advantage for US producers, but that ability has been closing as other countries improved infrastructure.
“This amendment was a way to make additional improvements that would help our transportation logistics,” he said.
The goals of the proposed amendment remain important, however, the path forward has not been established at this point, he said.
“We’ll reassess and look for other opportunities to address transportation improvements,” he said. “The highway bill is closed to us. It’s a missed opportunity, but we have not assessed and developed a strategy moving forward.”