A trade group for the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry and other shippers groups are endorsing a bipartisan bill launched in Congress today that aims to deliver “a sweeping overhaul of the interstate trucking supply chain system” by bringing more drivers into the sector.
According to its sponsors, the “Safer Highways and Increased Performance for Interstate Trucking (SHIP IT) Act” would increase safety and shipping capacity for truckers; provide recruitment and retention incentives for drivers; and include flexibility during times of emergencies or black swan events. It was introduced by U.S. Representatives Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) and Jim Costa (D-CA).
If successful, the bill would follow a flurry of transportation-related bills that became law in the first two years of the Biden Administration, including the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act, Ocean Shipping Reform Act (OSRA), and Inflation Reduction Act. In additional moves, the White House introduced efforts to boost truck driver job recruitment, improve data sharing among supply chain partners through the FLOW platform, and forced a resolution to a threatened freight rail strike.
Supporters say the SHIP-IT Act would address a chronic shortage of truck drivers cited by fleets by instituting a package of financial grants, tax credits, loosening of trucking regulations during supply chain emergencies, and streamlining of the process for new drivers to earn a commercial drivers license (CDL). It would also expand access to truck parking and rest facilities, a frequent complaint by commercial drivers.
“Disruptions in our trucking supply chain continue to drive up costs and create uncertainty for American consumers and producers,” Rep. Costa said in a release. “We need to recruit, train, and retain truck drivers to keep our supply chain moving, while also updating best practices to improve trucking to fit our modern economy. That is why we introduced this bipartisan legislation to strengthen the workforce and make it easier to move products across the country.”
CPG trade group the Consumer Brands Association (CBA) threw its weight behind the effort, saying the bill would address supply chain pinch points. “Better equipped supply chain operations will help us ensure consumers have consistent, uninterrupted access to the essential goods they use every day. We’re grateful for the bipartisan leadership of Congressmen Costa and Johnson in championing new legislation that will safely allow for less empty miles driven, a more robust and well-trained trucking workforce, and a stronger national supply chain,” Tom Madrecki, CBA’s vice president of supply chain and logistics, said in a release.
Additional support for the bill from shippers groups including the Shippers Coalition—which represents companies in the food and beverage, manufacturing, and agribusiness industries—the International Dairy Foods Association, and the National Milk Producers Federation.