WASHINGTON, D.C. — In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) recommended US governors adopt measures to allow the issuance of new commercial driver’s licenses (CDL) during shutdowns or reduced operations of state motor vehicle offices.
“We are concerned that if driver’s license agencies continue to not issue new CDLs or limit service, trucking capacity may be inadequate to ensure continuity of operations for human and animal food supply participants,” the NGFA said in an April 6 letter.
The spring planting season creates a need for seasonal drivers as well as seasonal CDLs, restricted agricultural CDLs and CDL endorsements for new hires.
“The agricultural industry depends on a steady flow of new (CDL) drivers to maintain its supply chain,” the NGFA said. “Often, the agricultural industry serves as a pathway for many of the nation’s full-time truck drivers, thus the loss of a process to issue new CDLs may impact the food and agricultural industry disproportionately hard.”
The NGFA asked governors to accommodate the need for drivers and help create new processes to issue new CDLs, or to issue an emergency and temporary alternative process to enable new drivers to obtain licenses, if necessary.
The association has been spearheading transportation issues and limitations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
On March 25, the NGFA along with 53 other groups sent a letter urging the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to grant relief from federal drive time rules for all truck drivers hauling agricultural goods.
Then on March 31, more than 60 US agricultural groups requested each state increase truck weight limits on highways within their jurisdictions to a “minimum harmonized weight” of 88,000 pounds to improve the food and agriculture industry’s efficiency and capacity to deliver food and feed.
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