Mar 25, 2020
Produce Marketing Association shares produce shipping guidelines

Ed Treacy, Vice President, Supply Chain and Sustainability for Produce Marketing Association (PMA) sent out the following information on March 24 to assist produce supply chain members amid the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.

“In the midst of these ever changing and unprecedented times, I wanted to share the most recent intelligence as it applies to Supply Chain COVID-19 guidance.

Weight limits and hourly work restrictions

As of (the morning of March 24), 28 states have temporarily increased weight limits on trucks. American Trucking Association COVID-19 Update Hub has a summary of weight waivers by state. In case you are looking to maximize truck capacity with the temporary increase in weight limits, I have attached a copy of the Blue Book Temperature and Ethylene Compatibility Guideline and would also like to share the following link to the UC Davis Compatability Chart.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration have waived hours of work restrictions for essential service drivers, including all food loads FMCSA’s.

Important Resources

Ed Treacy, vice president of supply chain and sustainability, Produce Marketing Association

In the United States, the government has determined that food and agricultural workers, along with food and agricultural supplies, are part of Critical Infrastructure Industries. Their work and these supplies are vital to security, national economic security, national public health, or safety.To help you and your employees prove that they are vital and are allowed to travel within the United States, despite other travel bans, PMA has provided you this certificate that your employees can carry with them as they travel on food/ag business. We also offer this certificate about transporting food/ag supplies.

I would like to remind all to read and practice the President’s Coronavirus Guidelines for America.

Outside drivers

Receivers and shippers are encouraged to separate outside drivers to minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19. Companies choosing to implement this will need to make provisions for outside drivers to facilitate access to refreshments and bathroom facilities. If they are not able to count the load on/off their truck, the terms need to be reflected on the bill of lading.

Border crossings and rates

Please verify that your carrier will be willing to cross borders when contracting the freight. We have heard of instances of carriers refusing to cross a border due to their insurance companies’ refusal to cover the drivers if they contract COVID-19.

As of (March 20), freight rates were up between 5-20% due to tightening equipment and driver supply. Some freight companies are asking for significant increases but are not getting much business. Unloading times at receivers have also increased due to prioritization and increased volume.

FMCSA annual safety blitz

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) performs an annual two-day safety inspection in June. They have announced that they will be not only be moving forward this year but are planning on moving it to early May. There is great concern that this will severely decrease the number of trucks available and skyrocket rates. Last June, the highest rates all year were during the June safety inspection blitz. PMA is working with the appropriate authorities in (Washington D.C.) to have this blitz inspection suspended; however, for the time being, please plan accordingly.

Items of Note

If you are a foodservice distributor with extra transportation capacity, we encourage you to contact retailers as most need drivers and equipment to cover the surge in volume.

Packers should monitor packaging stock requirements and should forecast longer lead times to replenish packaging supplies. Packaging manufacturers are increasing lead times due to a decrease in production as a result of increased sanitation and employee’s wellness protocols.

If you are a foodservice distributor with extra transportation capacity, we encourage you to contact retailers as most need drivers and equipment to cover the surge in volume.

PMA COVID-19 Virtual Town Hall

Finally, PMA is hosting a members-only Virtual Town Hall on at noon EST March 25 at featuring a COVID-19 expert and breakout sessions focused on global trade, grower-shippers, supply chain, foodservice, retail and floral.

— Ed Treacy, Vice President, Supply Chain and Sustainability, Produce Marketing Association

Visit the PMA website for more information.

75 Applewood Dr. Ste. A
P.O. Box 128
Sparta, MI 49345


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