Dairy groups are supporting a new bill introduced by Rep. Reid Ribble, R-Wis., that would allow states to increase the gross vehicle weight limit on commercial trucks if they are properly equipped with six axles and meet the same safety standards as trucks currently allowed on interstates.
International Dairy Foods Association president and CEO Connie Tipton said the bill is important to dairy as an industry that relies on trucks to move goods to market.
"As a representative of dairy companies as well as a mother and grandmother, I personally believe it's a win-win when we can achieve greater efficiency and affordability along with safer roadways," Tipton said.
The industry relies on trucks to get milk from farms to plants and from plants to grocery stores. Because of the perishable nature of milk and dairy products, speed is a consideration.
IDFA says federal transportation rules are outdated, and force trucks to leave plants when they are less than full because the trucks reach the current weight limit before they meet the capacity limit.
The group says the Safe Trucking Act will modernize shipments on interstates because it raises the federal gross vehicle weight limit for trucks equipped with six axles rather than the typical five. It also gives states the flexibility to utilize these trucks where they see fit.
Allowing trucks to carry more product reduces the number of trucks on roadways, IDFA said.
In a letter sent to members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, the National Milk Producers Federation joined with IDFA to tell Congress that the combination of greater efficiencies and safer highways makes sense for many industries.
"The current patchwork of varying maximum weights compels dairy marketers to transport partially empty loads of milk. This uses more fuel, creates more congestion and increases the costs of maintaining roads," said Jim Mulhern, NMPF president and CEO.
"Common sense changes like those included in the Safe Trucking Act will improve the efficiency and sustainability of the U.S. dairy industry."
NMPF and IDFA highlighted a June study by the U.S. Department of Transportation that found more productive trucks lower congestion costs, fuel costs, and carbon and other emissions.
The study also found that vehicle stability and control are virtually unchanged on heavier six-axle vehicles, the groups said, and truck weight reform would also reduce pavement costs.