WASHINGTON — Inflation has become a four-letter word in recent months as the U.S. tries to stave off an economic crisis amid rising goods and fuel prices.
The issue has prompted American Trucking Associations Chairman Harold Sumerford Jr. to urge members of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee to address areas of inflationary pressure on the trucking industry: congestion, fuel prices and labor shortages.
“More than 80% of American communities rely exclusively on trucks for freight services, so capacity constraints on trucking supply chains caused by inflation and shortsighted policies directly impact the costs for those consumers,” Sumerford said.
Sumerford, CEO of J&M Tank Lines, Birmingham, Alabama, spoke to Republican committee members during a roundtable on inflation, presenting three areas Congress should focus on: investments in physical infrastructure, fuel costs and workforce development.
In the wake of last year’s bipartisan infrastructure bill, Sumerford said Congress should prioritize investments in roads and bridges that enable maximum utilization of trucking capacity to ensure that goods get to market at the lowest possible end cost for consumers. He highlighted the need for infrastructure projects that generate productivity and efficiency as a way to combat inflation, telling lawmakers that “eliminating bottlenecks and making highways more efficient is essential to our economic resilience.”
Sumerford also advocated for an “all-of-the-above approach” to reducing fuel costs, noting that diesel prices are $2 per gallon higher than they were just a year ago.
Finally, Sumerford urged Congress to focus on workforce development initiatives to both address the persistent truck driver shortage and help the trucking industry keep pace with increasing freight demand. He suggested that lawmakers do more in federal workforce programs to “prioritize skilled trades and protect the independent contractor model that empowers tens of thousands of owner-operators to enter the trucking industry and grow successful small businesses.”
“The quickest way to ensure supply chains have access to affordable trucking capacity is to improve pathways for students and other workers to begin rewarding careers as truck drivers and owner operators,” he said.
The Trucker News Staff produces engaging content for not only TheTrucker.com, but also The Trucker Newspaper, which has been serving the trucking industry for more than 30 years. With a focus on drivers, the Trucker News Staff aims to provide relevant, objective content pertaining to the trucking segment of the transportation industry. The Trucker News Staff is based in Little Rock, Arkansas.