is part of the Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

  • American Agriculturist
  • Beef Producer
  • Corn and Soybean Digest
  • Dakota Farmer
  • Delta Farm Press
  • Farm Futures
  • Farm Industry news
  • Indiana Prairie Farmer
  • Kansas Farmer
  • Michigan Farmer
  • Missouri Ruralist
  • Nebraska Farmer
  • Ohio Farmer
  • Prairie Farmer
  • Southeast Farm Press
  • Southwest Farm Press
  • The Farmer
  • Wallaces Farmer
  • Western Farm Press
  • Western Farmer Stockman
  • Wisconsin Agriculturist

Transportation improvements needed for better efficient produce industry

Transportation will play a critical role in the future of the Texas fruit and vegetable industry, says a Texas A&M Extension economist.

Marco Palma, speaking to a vegetable production and management seminar at the recent Texas Produce Convention in San Antonio, Texas, said a multi-modal transportation system, one that uses several means of transportation instead of relying on trucking, will be necessary to improve efficiency.

“Currently, transporting Texas produce depends on trucks,” Palma said. But the trucking industry has problems.

“For one thing, shipping Texas produce is seasonal,” he said. “April through June is the peak.” Truckers and trucking companies need a consistent source of goods to establish routes that keep fleets moving. “Variations in production is a disadvantage for the trucking industry,” Palma said.

Other challenges include rising fuel prices, a shortage of long-haul drivers (currently at 20,000 short and possibly to 111,00 by 2014), and urban congestion that slows movements.

“Traffic congestion in large cities, especially those on the East Coast, is bad and will get much worse,” Palma said. But it's bad enough in Texas, with more than 300,000 miles of road networks and the nation's largest energy consumption. “Texas consumes 20 percent of all the fuel in the United States.”

Palma said fuel price, currently at $2.40 per gallon for diesel, is up from $1.11 since 1995. “Increase is likely to continue.”

With those challenges, he said the industry needs a more versatile and more efficient transportation system. “We need an intermodal terminal with multiple means of transportation working together,” he said. Trucks, ships, railroads and planes all play roles in such a system.

The high cost to set up such an operation is the main obstacle, Palma said. But the possibility exists for an intermodal terminal in McAllen, Texas.

“The success of the produce industry depends on dependable transportation,” Palma said. “But it's difficult to change transportation options in the short run. We need along-term solution and we need to start the process now.”

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.