Trucks are the key to moving agricultural products: USDA


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The trucking industry is at the heart of the country’s agricultural sector, as trucks carry a large portion of agricultural freight by tonnage, according to a report released in December by the US Department of Agriculture.

Specifically, trucks are responsible for 83% of agricultural freight movements by tonnage and accounted for 56% of agricultural freight tonne-miles, according to “The Importance of Highways to American Agriculture.” The results were based on information gathering from researchers at the US Department of Transportation.

“Trucks carry the majority of agricultural freight across all product groups,” the report says. “The share of truck mode is particularly high for meat, poultry, fish and seafood (over 95%). Even grain, which frequently travels long distances by rail and barge, accounts for over 70% of the tonnage transported by truck.

USDA Routes by Transport Topics

The results also highlighted the prevalence of short-haul trucks. According to the report, “Trucking provides a vital link between farmers, ranchers, manufacturers, feedlots and rail, barge and port terminals.”

In 2018, 4.5 billion tonnes of agricultural products, worth $ 3.1 trillion, passed through all modes of transport.

The researchers also highlighted the effect that inadequate and substandard infrastructure conditions could have on the movement of agricultural goods. To avoid the obstacles caused by poor infrastructure, more financial investments should be made, according to the report. Specifically, the researchers determined that truck operating cost savings of about $ 540 million per year could be achieved through the state’s planned road freight investments. Recycling could also offer some aspects of the transport workforce new opportunities.

“Targeted investments in road infrastructure can help address state-related challenges,” according to the report, which notes that good access to trade corridors would improve freight transport. “The impacts of infrastructure improvements on the agricultural sector are vast, encompassing agricultural productivity, transport costs, food prices and international competitiveness,” he continued.


USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Greg Ibach said Dec. 17, “The movement of farm goods is essential to moving goods from farm to consumer table. Efficient transportation helps keep food prices low for consumers and enables the US agricultural industry to compete in the world market.

In 2018, the ministry published a report highlighting barge transport in relation to the transport of agricultural products, such as grains and oilseeds. Ibach added, “Together, the two reports can be used to identify major infrastructure investments, update state freight plans and long-term transportation plans, inform policy discussions and help identify priorities for future research. “

Jon Samson, executive director of the American Trucking Associations Agriculture and Food Transporters Conference, applauded the report’s findings, noting the urgent need to invest more in improving infrastructure.

“As mentioned in the report, truck transport is responsible for the majority of freight movements in all modes, with almost every movement affecting at least one truck,” Samson told Transport Topics on Dec. 18. “The report also appropriately highlights the state of the current infrastructure system and the importance of project completion to ensure safe and efficient movement of goods. This very informative and valuable report not only gives us excellent overview of the importance of transport in today’s commodity supply chain, but also the importance of ensuring that future investments in our highways are made during the next infrastructure bill.

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Congress, which begins a new session in January, is expected to approve investments for expensive infrastructure projects. Policymakers in the House and Senate have signaled the potential to advance climate change-focused measures that would target supply chains. Transport policy watchers suggest COVID-19 is likely to be less disruptive in 2021. Even if a vaccine allows the freight industry to stabilize, workforce adaptations in commerce will improve delivery services in the years to come.

Journalist Eleanor Lamb contributed to this article.

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