Today, IDFA announced the formation of a Supply Chain Task Force to develop policy recommendations to address severe supply chain disruptions affecting the U.S. dairy industry. The Supply Chain Task Force will work across our industry with partners from other sectors of the economy, the federal government, think tanks, and others to bring actionable solutions to the table. IDFA team members Becky Rasdall, Vice President of Trade Policy and International Affairs, and Donald Grady, Director of Legislative Affairs, will serve as IDFA liaisons for the new Supply Chain Task Force.

Under IDFA bylaws, nominations to serve on any task force including the Supply Chain Task Force must come from members of the IDFA Industry Segment Boards and Executive Council. IDFA is accepting nominations to serve on the Supply Chain Task Force through Friday, Nov. 19, 2021. To submit a name for nomination, please email Becky Rasdall and Donald Grady.

Formation of the task force comes as the food and agriculture sector deals with several mounting challenges including labor shortages, steadily increasingly costs for inputs such as ingredients and packaging, and major challenges moving products through sea and land ports.

Many of these issues will be discussed today in a House Agriculture Committee hearing entitled, The Immediate Challenges to our Nation’s Food Supply Chain. I am grateful to IDFA Executive Council member Michael Durkin, President and CEO of Leprino Foods Company, for agreeing to be one of the featured witnesses in today’s hearing. I am confident Mike will elevate the concerns of our dairy industry to policymakers and legislators.

IDFA is pursuing legislative actions to supply chain challenges by encouraging Congress to pass three key bills:

  1. The bipartisan infrastructure bill includes provisions to address the truck driver shortage through a pilot program that would allow 18–21-year-old drivers to drive interstate
  2. IDFA is advocating for the reconciliation bill to include provisions to increase truck weights from 80,000 lbs. to 91,000 lbs. on an additional sixth axel, and
  3. The bipartisan Ocean Shipping Reform Act aimed at alleviating long-term challenges at U.S. seaports

Supply chain challenges have worsened throughout 2021, requiring IDFA’s advocacy to evolve. For example, when the COVID-19 pandemic first disrupted supply chains, IDFA worked with other trade associations and the federal government to reroute dairy foods from shuttered restaurants to food banks across the country. We also successfully advocated for language in the CARES Act to increase federal gross vehicle weight limits for a 120-day period to keep the supply chain intact. Most recently, we’ve brought our advocacy directly to members of Congress. IDFA leaders spoke directly to House Agriculture Committee Chairman David Scott about the need to elevate supply chain issues, which resulted in today’s hearing.

Last week, IDFA staff and members of the NextGen Leadership Program attended more than a dozen meetings with Members of Congress on Capitol Hill where supply chain issues were central. In the weeks ahead, IDFA is organizing two Congressional fly-ins so company representatives can share real-world examples of how supply chain challenges are impacting their businesses.

IDFA will continue to advocate and seek solutions on supply chain challenges affecting our dairy industry.