Lack of truck drivers the biggest ag supply chain problem
The House Agriculture Committee held a hearing today at which various sectors within agriculture discussed their immediate supply chain problems while House Agriculture Committee Chairman David Scott, D-Ga., and House Agriculture ranking member Glenn “GT” Thompson, R-Pa., disagreed about whether the Biden administration is to blame for the problems.
After the hearing, Scott said, “Today’s hearing made it abundantly clear that the key piece for us, as we address supply chain issues facing our food supply, is recruiting and retaining more commercial truck drivers to transport food and agriculture commodities across the country. At this immediate moment, our food supply is abundant and there is no cause for panic. As the Food Service Distributors Association indicated, we have 15,000 vacancies for truck drivers and 17,500 warehouse vacancies.”
In an opening statement, Scott said, “We are committed to doing our part in Congress and the House Agriculture Committee to shine a light on these issues and partner with industry and the administration to find solutions.” He also commended President Biden for “his hard work to take these supply chain challenges head on, as evidenced by his recent deal with ports to run 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and the workforce development provisions in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.”
Scott added, “The president also had the wisdom to include Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack as one of the co-chairs of his Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force. Secretary Vilsack has announced significant USDA resources, targeted toward resolving the bottlenecks in the food and agriculture supply chain.”
Scott also pointed out that “we are not facing a scarcity of food and agricultural commodities” and American agriculture “is also still on pace to set record export levels.”
Scott said, “These challenges were largely driven by the pandemic and have persisted, due to the uneven recovery and the Delta variant of COVID-19.”
But Thompson said he was disappointed that the administration was not represented at the hearing, which he considers “one of the main culprits” in the supply chain problems.
“In too many instances, the White House uses industry as a scapegoat rather than partnering with them to solve problems,” Thompson said. “While we can mull other factors like natural disasters, much of what we will hear about today is how feckless, liberal policies under consideration by this administration are compounding — instead of mitigating — this crisis.”
Thompson continued, “This administration has singlehandedly perpetuated a fear of higher taxes, contemplated regulations that will limit crop protection tools and land use, reduced our nation’s energy independence, reverted to divisive and unreasonable vaccine mandates, and challenged regulations in our transportation sector. To make matters worse, as we sit here, trillions more in reckless spending are being readied behind closed doors, funding that will only add fuel to the fire of skyrocketing inflation and economic uncertainty.”
The witnesses represented the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, the American Bakers Association, the National Grocers Association, the International Dairy Foods Association, the American Trucking Association and the Agricultural Retailers Association.
–The Hagstrom Report
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