WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Nov. 6, Congress passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which will address improvements to transportation infrastructure and other public utilities and is expected to add 1.5 million jobs in the United States every year for the next decade. President Joe Biden signed the act into law on Nov. 15.
The legislation provides $550 billion in federal funding over the next five years to be invested in roads, bridges, railways, ports, public transit and other areas of transportation infrastructure, as well as clean drinking water infrastructure, access to high-speed internet and clean energy infrastructure. Roughly $110 billion will be used to improve roads, bridges and other major transportation infrastructure projects across the country.
“This will make it easier for companies to get goods to market more quickly and reduce supply chain bottlenecks now and for decades to come,” Biden stated.
The implementation of this legislation is expected to benefit the animal feed and agriculture industries, which have been experiencing transportation bottlenecks that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
One facet of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is a pilot program to attract younger commercial drivers into the trucking industry. According to the Pet Food Institute (PFI), 70% of the country’s freight is transported by commercial trucking, and this mode of transportation is vital for the supply of pet food ingredients and distribution of finished products.
The pilot program, DRIVE-Safe Act, involves a “rigorous two-step apprenticeship program” that would allow qualified 18-to-20-year-old commercial drivers to obtain interstate licenses. Previously, drivers under the age of 21 were prohibited from crossing state lines. The program is expected to be initiated within 60 days, as of Nov. 18.
Both PFI and the National Grain and Feed Industry Association (NGFA) commended the President’s passage of the infrastructure act.
“NGFA members rely on a robust and competitive transportation system, including US highways, bridges, inland waterways, ports and railways, to efficiently and competitively serve domestic and global markets,” stated Mike Seyfert, president and chief executive officer of NGFA. “The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will enhance the efficient and cost-effective transport of agricultural and food products resulting in substantial contributions and opportunities for US economic growth and trade.”
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