The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) and 83 other members of the Agricultural Transportation Working Group today urged lawmakers to improve truck transportation by supporting the Safer Highways and Increased Performance for Interstate Trucking Act (SHIP IT) introduced by Reps. Dusty Johnson, R-SD, and Jim Costa, D-CA.
In a March 8 letter sent to leaders of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Technology, Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works, and House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, the groups said trucks are the linchpin of the transportation sector with most forms of freight trucked at least once during the supply chain process. They said SHIP IT would provide meaningful solutions to address the need for more truck drivers, truck parking, productivity, environmental efficiency, options during emergencies, and flexibility for agricultural haulers.
“The pandemic highlighted the importance of trucking to our nation’s well-being and we believe economic and environmental benefits can be unlocked through legislative reform,” the letter noted. “SHIP IT aims to bolster our nation’s driver workforce with two years of tax incentives for qualified drivers, grants to help cover driver schooling costs, and additional options for obtaining commercial drivers’ licenses. The bill also provides authorization for additional parking facilities to help improve drivers’ quality of life.”
SHIP IT also allows states to opt into pilot programs to permit trucks with at least six axles to weigh up to 91,000 pounds on Interstate Highways. The additional axle and associated set of brakes increase stopping capability, the groups noted, and trucks would be required to comply with the Federal bridge formula and axle weight limits to protect bridges and roads.
For agricultural haulers, SHIP IT also provides a 150-air-mile exemption from hours-of-service regulations on the backend of hauls to provide flexibility for agriculture and its seasonal changes in freight demand.
“We believe by supporting SHIP IT, Congress can achieve positive benefits for the environment while improving the economic competitiveness of the United States,” the groups stated. “We look forward to working with you in support of improving U.S. transportation and bolstering America’s infrastructure.”