Peggy Armstrong, IDFA
Chris Galen, NMPF
(Washington, D.C. – September 10, 2015) The dairy industry today welcomed the introduction of the Safe, Flexible and Efficient Trucking Act in the House of Representatives. The bill would allow states to increase the gross vehicle weight limit on commercial trucks if they are properly equipped with six axles and meet the same safety standards as trucks currently allowed on interstates. Known as the Safe Trucking Act, the bill was introduced by Representative Reid Ribble (R-WI).
“IDFA thanks Congressman Ribble for his leadership on an issue that is vitally important to the makers and marketers of dairy products and the many other industries relying on trucks to move goods to market, as to those who share our highways with them,” said Connie Tipton, president and CEO of the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA). “As a representative of dairy companies as well as a mother and grandmother, I personally believe it’s a win-win when we can achieve greater efficiency and affordability along with safer roadways.”
The dairy industry relies heavily on commercial trucks to get milk from the farm to plants and to move dairy foods from the plants to grocery shelves across the country. Because the products are perishable, they must move quickly and efficiently. Unfortunately, outdated federal transportation rules now force trucks to leave plants when they are less than full because the trucks reach the current weight limit before they meet the capacity limit.
By raising the federal gross vehicle weight limit for trucks equipped with six axles rather than the typical five and giving states the flexibility to utilize these trucks where they see fit, the Safe Trucking Act would safely modernize truck shipments on Interstate highways by allowing trucks to carry more product and thereby reducing the number of trucks on our roadways. In a letter sent to members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, IDFA and NMPF said the combination of greater efficiencies and safer highways makes a lot of sense.
“The current patchwork of varying maximum weights compels dairy marketers to transport partially empty loads of milk. This uses more fuel, creates more congestion and increases the costs of maintaining roads,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation. “Common sense changes like those included in the Safe Trucking Act will improve the efficiency and sustainability of the U.S. dairy industry.”
DOT Study Confirms Safety of Heavier Six-Axle Trucks
In June, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) released its technical findings in connection with its Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Limits study. Among its findings, DOT concluded that more productive trucks lower congestion costs, fuel costs, and carbon and other emissions. They also found that vehicle stability and control are virtually unchanged on heavier six-axle vehicles. Truck weight reform would also reduce pavement costs significantly.
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The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), Washington, D.C., represents the nation's dairy manufacturing and marketing industries and their suppliers, with a membership of more than 550 companies within a $125-billion a year industry. IDFA is composed of three constituent organizations: the Milk Industry Foundation (MIF), the National Cheese Institute (NCI) and the International Ice Cream Association (IICA). IDFA's nearly 200 dairy processing members run nearly 600 plant operations, and range from large multi-national organizations to single-plant companies. Together they represent more than 85 percent of the milk, cultured products, cheese, ice cream and frozen desserts produced and marketed in the United States. Visit www.idfa.org.
The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), based in Arlington, Va., develops and carries out policies that advance the well-being of U.S. dairy producers and the cooperatives they collectively own. The members of NMPF's cooperatives produce the majority of the U.S, milk supply, making NMPF the voice of nearly 32,000 dairy producers on Capitol Hill and with government agencies. For more on NMPF's activities, visit www.nmpf.org.