House bill aims to improve interstate trucking system

A new bill in the US House aims to resolve supply chain challenges by improving the interstate trucking system.

Representatives Dusty Johnson of South Dakota and Jim Costa of California have introduced the bipartisan legislation known as the Safer Highways and Increased Performance for Interstate Trucking (SHIP IT) Act, which would increase safety and shipping capacity for truckers, provide recruitment and retention incentives for drivers and grant regulatory flexibility during emergencies.

Kirby Wagner, Associate Manager of Government Relations with GROWMARK-FS tells Brownfield the trucking sector has been struggling to keep up through labor shortages and strict Entry Level Driving Training requirements.

“Anything that helps streamline that and gets drivers on the road and workers in the ports is going to be really helpful to our supply chain. I think we have to be innovative on how we come up with ways to do so and it appears this legislation is doing that.”

He says it is hard to predict peak demand during emergencies and this legislation would grant regulatory flexibility for scenarios like the COVID-19 pandemic and weather-related disasters.    

“That challenge is the one that really needs to be addressed. Any way that we can combat that such as getting more drivers available, working on their hours of service and when they are able to operate will be really beneficial for not just the GROWMARK system, but ag in general.”

The legislation would also streamline the CDL process, expand access to truck parking and rest facilities and incentivize new truck drivers to enter the workforce through temporary tax credits.

Johnson says last year they addressed ocean shipping reform and it is clear that updates are needed for other parts of the supply chain. Wagner says it will be important for legislators to work with the industry as the bill is debated and changed.

Other ag groups including the International Dairy Foods Association and National Milk Producers Federation have expressed support for the bill.

Interview with Kirby Wagner

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