March 9, 2023
The Agriculture Transportation Working Group, a coalition of more than 80 agriculture and food advocacy groups, is urging Congress to pass the SHIP IT Act. The group penned an open letter to leaders of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Technology, Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works, and House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure advocating for the bill.
According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, trucks account for more than 60% of all domestic freight by weight. The ATWG calls them the “linchpin” of the transportation sector, noting most freight touches a truck at least once.
“We believe by supporting SHIP IT, Congress can achieve positive benefits for the environment while improving the economic competitiveness of the United States,” the ATWG letter states.
SHIP IT is short for the Safer Highways and Increased Performance for Interstate Trucking Act. It was introduced by Reps. Dusty Johnson, R- S.D., and Jim Costa, D-Calif., in January.
The bill aims to improve the supply chain by offering tax credits to new and experienced drivers. It would expand access to commercial driver’s license tests and cover some driver training costs with Workforce Innovation and Opportunity grants.
If passed, the bill would also allow states to opt-in to a pilot program permitting six-axle trucks that weigh up to 91,000 pounds. Hours of service regulations would be modified to provide flexibility for seasonal demand variances in the agriculture industry.
“Americans experienced a slew of freight disruptions during and after the COVID-19 pandemic,” Rep. Johnson said when he announced the bill. “Last year we addressed ocean shipping reform, and it’s clear that updates are needed for other parts of the supply chain. The SHIP IT Act will bridge gaps, keep costs down for consumers, and make it easier for shippers to move products across the U.S.”
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