Ag Groups Disappointed After Congress Voted Against Truck Weight Change

US - The American House of Representatives last week rejected a call to modernise the food transport system by allowing states to issue permits for heavier truck weights in some circumstances.
calendar icon 9 November 2015
clock icon 2 minute read

Agricultural organisations across the US jointly wrote to Members of the House last week, urging them to modernise transport of food.

More than 70 associations sent a letter urging Congress to include the Safe, Flexible and Efficient (SAFE) Trucking Act, as an amendment to the highway reauthorisation legislation, which is expected to go before the full House of Representatives this week.

By allowing heavier trucks, the food groups said that the number of vehicles on roads would decrease, and perishable goods could be transported more efficiently.

But the House of Representatives voted to reject the SAFE Trucking Act amendment.

The bipartisan amendment, sponsored by Representatives Reid Ribble, Kurt Schrader, David Rouzer and Collin Peterson, was defeated by a floor vote of 187-236.

“I would like to thank our members for all their efforts in reaching out to their representatives in support of the amendment,” said Chelsee Woodey, director of legislative affairs for the International Dairy Foods Association, which supported the amendment.

“Given that we were up against the chairman and ranking member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, 187 ayes represents significant progress towards reaching our ultimate goal of creating a more safe and efficient trucking system.

“We will continue to work to develop policy that will allow our members to ship their products more efficiently on Interstate highways,” she added.

Other food and agriculture groups also voiced disapproval of the House's failure to change the rules.

“The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association is greatly disappointed in the members of Congress who opposed modernising America’s transportation laws.

"The cattle industry relies on trucks for the safe, timely transportation of livestock from all corners of the country in order to keep up with the global demand for our product.

"The days of the cross-country cattle drive are over, and the livestock industry no longer utilises the rail system. Rep. Rooney’s amendment would have allowed states the option to issue special permits for livestock shippers to operate vehicles weighing up to 95,000 pounds.

"Despite the numerous objective science-based transportation studies, including the US Department of Transportation’s own study, that support the increase of truck weights both on economical and safety principles, the House failed to vote on the side of science.

"Without the inclusion of Rep. Rooney’s amendment, Rep. Reid Ribble’s amendment, or language to address the mandatory 30-minute rest period rule, there is nothing to support in HR 22 Surface Transportation Reauthorisation and Reform Act, and NCBA strongly opposes its passage.”

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