The American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) and the National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) joined crop and livestock organizations and other members of the Agricultural Transportation Working Group in signing a letter of support for the Safer Highways and Increased Performance for Interstate Trucking Act (SHIP IT).
The letter, dated March 8, urges US policymakers to take action to improve supply chain function to support truck transportation. It is addressed to the leaders of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Technology, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, and the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.
The bill would not only offer improvements to US transportation and infrastructure, but it would also provide environmental and economic support, argued the US ag industry players.
SHIP IT would address concerns and provide swift and metered solutions for the need for an increased number of truck drivers, parking for trucks, productivity, environmental proficiency, emergency planning, and more flexibility for haulers, said the signatories.
It would help ag haulers by providing a 150-air-miles exemption from hours-of-service regulations on the backend of hauls to provide needed flexibility for agriculture and its seasonal changes in freight demand, they added.
America is experiencing an 80,000-truck driver shortage, which has a negative ripple effect for every part of the supply chain, including agricultural shipments.
The median age of the truck driver in the industry is between 51- and 52-years old. There is one parking space available for every 11 semitrucks on the road—yet there is a need for even more trucks to deliver freight, noted US Representatives Dusty Johnson of South Dakota and Jim Costa of California when they introduced the bill in January 2023.
“Americans experienced a slew of freight disruptions during and after the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Johnson. “Last year we addressed ocean shipping reform, and it’s clear that updates are needed for other parts of the supply chain.”
Incentivizing new truck drivers, easier CDL testing
The SHIP IT Act is intended to
- Modernize the authority for certain vehicle waivers during emergencies, allowing waivers in response to disease and supply chain emergencies
- Allow truck drivers to apply for Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act grants
- Incentivize new truck drivers to enter the workforce through targeted and temporary tax credits
- Streamline the commercial driver license (CDL) process, making it easier for states and third parties to administer CDL tests
- Expand access to truck parking and rest facilities for commercial drivers