ASA says are multiple positives in proposed reauthorization of Highway Bill, NMPF not so sure

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee moves to mark up the American Energy & Infrastructure Jobs Act of 2012 (H.R. 7) released by Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) this week. And American Soybean Association President Steve Wellman says there are multiple high points within the bill’s initial language.
“ASA applauds Chairman Mica’s proposal, which included multiple soybean farmer priorities, including the renewal of an agricultural harvest time exemption from the hours-of-service rules that limit the number of hours truck drivers may operate, as well as the chairman’s proposed inclusion of provisions enabling states to allow increased truck weight limits if an additional axle is used.  ASA is disappointed with efforts during the mark-up to block the provisions to allow increased truck weight limits.
“ASA is also particularly encouraged that the proposed bill includes stated support for the Realize America’s Maritime Promise Act, which will ensure sufficient funding for dredging of inland waterways and port maintenance activities.
“This reauthorization is certainly overdue, and the soybean industry stands to gain much from a new, comprehensive transportation solution. Not only farmers stand to gain from a renewed commitment to transportation infrastructure, however; the lower energy and transportation costs that result will benefit all Americans.
“Our industry and agriculture as a whole needs reliable and modern roads and highways, rail infrastructure, inland waterways and ports to ensure that American farmers can move their products to market as quickly and efficiently as possible. The steps taken this week by Chairman Mica and the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee are productive ones toward this ultimate goal.”
But the National Milk Producers Federation expressed their disapproval of the vote to remove truck weight reform language. Following the vote, NMPF President & CEO Jerry Kozak issued a statement with their view:

“We are disappointed by the committee’s vote today to remove the truck weight reform language from the highway bill under consideration in the House Transportation Committee. As dairy farmers and members of dairy cooperatives, we are affected every day by transportation policies that do not reflect the needs and demands of today’s commercial environment. Building on the overwhelming success of pilot programs in Maine and Vermont, which Congress recently extended for an additional twenty years, truck weight reform has proven to be a responsible approach to raising truck weight limits. This allows American businesses to meet consumer demand with fewer trucks, removing unnecessary congestion from the roads, lessening our dependence on fossil fuels, reducing our carbon footprint and improving shipping productivity. We need reform now, not after a three year study.”


Source: ASA & NMPF