Press Releases

 Senators: “The transportation of milk is an issue that affects businesses and consumers in every region and in every state.”  

WASHINGTON – Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) joined Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Kelly Ayotte (D-N.H.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), and Angus King (I-Maine) this week in calling for flexibility for America’s dairy farmers in the recently-passed Surface Transportation bill. The senators sent a letter to bipartisan leaders on the conference committee asking that the final bill allow bulk milk trucks to carry milk without being forced to offload portions, which increases food safety risks for consumers and costs for dairy farmers.

“Each day, more than 12,500 bulk milk trucks pick up milk at farms across the country and move it to over 2,000 processing plants. The transportation of milk is an issue that affects businesses and consumers in every region and in every state,” the senators wrote. “We urge you to support language that was included in the House-passed version of H.R. 22, the Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy (DRIVE) Act, that would classify milk as a non-divisible load. This provision would allow states to issue special permits to bulk milk trucks, giving them more flexibility to ensure that milk is delivered in a timely manner and in compliance with federal and state food safety and security standards.”

The language, offered by Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-CT-5) and Richard Hanna (R-NY-22), was included in the House-passed version of the bill but was not included the bill passed by the Senate.

Full text of the letter is below:

November 23, 2015

 

The Honorable Jim Inhofe                                                     The Honorable Barbara Boxer

Chairman                                                                                 Ranking Member

Senate Committee on Environment                                      Senate Committee on Environment

and Public Works                                                                   and Public Works       

205 Russell Senate Office Building                                       112 Russell Senate Office Building  

Washington, D.C. 20510                                                        Washington, D.C. 20510

 

The Honorable John Thune                                                   Ranking Member Bill Nelson

Chairman                                                                                 Ranking Member

Senate Committee on Commerce,                                         Senate Committee on Commerce,

Science, and Transportation                                                 Science, and Transportation

511 Dirksen Senate Office Building                                      716 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20510                                                        Washington, D.C. 20510

 

The Honorable Richard Shelby                                             The Honorable Sherrod Brown

Chairman                                                                                 Ranking Member

Senate Committee on Banking,                                              Senate Committee on Banking,

Housing, and Urban Affairs                                                   Housing, and Urban Affairs

304 Russell Senate Office Building                                       713 Russell Senate Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20510                                                        Washington, D.C. 20510

 

The Honorable Orrin G. Hatch                                              The Honorable Ron Wyden

Chairman                                                                                 Ranking Member

Senate Committee on Finance                                               Senate Committee on Finance

104 Hart Senate Office Building                                            221 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20510                                                        Washington, D.C. 20510

 

Dear Chairs and Ranking Members,

Each day, more than 12,500 bulk milk trucks pick up milk at farms across the country and move it to over 2,000 processing plants. The transportation of bulk milk is an issue that affects businesses and consumers in every region and in every state.

We urge you to support language that was included in the House-passed version of H.R. 22, the Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy (DRIVE) Act, that would classify milk as a non-divisible load. This provision would allow states to issue special permits to bulk milk trucks, giving them more flexibility to ensure that milk is delivered in a timely manner and in compliance with federal and state food safety and security standards.

By classifying milk as a non-divisible load, this provision acknowledges that milk cannot be easily divided or dismantled between farms and processing plants. Milk is a perishable product that must be sealed for safety and transported quickly. When milk truckers pick up bulk milk, they must load the entire stock of bulk milk that a farm produced that day – not just the amount of milk that would keep the trucker in compliance with state truck weight limits. This is problematic because the amount of milk produced at a farm varies from day-to-day, based on weather, feed, and other factors. As a result, milk truckers perpetually risk being overweight. While milk truckers can break the seal and offload a portion of the milk to bring their truck weight into compliance, doing so increases transportation time and compromises the safety and security of the milk.

Current law already permits states to issue special permits for non-divisible loads, such as trees, boats, or any other products whose integrity would be compromised through division. Adding milk to the list of products that qualify as non-divisible loads would improve the safety and security of bulk milk. What’s more, this provision would improve the stability of trucks loaded with fluid milk.

As the Conference Committee deliberates which provisions will be included in the final version of the DRIVE Act, we strongly urge your support the inclusion of this important milk classification.

Sincerely,

Sen. Chris Murphy
Sen. Patrick Leahy
Sen. Ron Johnson
Sen. Mike Crapo
Sen. Al Franken
Sen. Tammy Baldwin
Sen. Kelly Ayotte
Sen. Jim Risch
Sen. Angus King

###