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Congressman Joe Courtney

Representing the 2nd District of Connecticut

Esty, Courtney, Murphy, DeLauro, Lead Bipartisan Effort to Ensure Flexibility for CT Dairy Farmers in Transportation Bill

November 23, 2015
Press Release

WASHINGTON D.C. – Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty (CT-5), led a bipartisan effort to support Connecticut dairy farmers and truckers in the six-year transportation bill (H.R. 22). Joe Courtney, (CT-2) and 22 House members, including U.S. Representatives Rosa DeLauro (CT-3) and joined the effort along with Connecticut U.S. Senator Chris Murphy.

After hearing from dairy farmers in Connecticut about the challenges they face transporting bulk milk, Rep. Esty and Rep. Richard Hanna (NY-22) co-introduced the Hanna-Esty Amendment, which was included in the House-passed version of the Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy (DRIVE) Act, H.R. 22. This provision classifies bulk milk as a non-divisible load and allows states to issue special weight permits to bulk milk haulers, ensuring milk is moved safely and timely. Esty, Courtney, Murphy, and DeLauro signed bipartisan letters, urging support for the inclusion of this important milk classification in the final version of the DRIVE Act.

“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 representatives 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.”

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

Bipartisan signors of the House letter include:  Reps. Hanna, Courtney  and DeLauro. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) is leading a similar letter in the Senate.

The House letter is copied below.

The Honorable Bill Shuster                                                           The Honorable Peter A. DeFazio
Chairman                                                                                             Ranking Member
Transportation and Infrastructure Committee                    Transportation and Infrastructure Committee
U.S. House of Representatives                                                  U.S. House of Representatives
2268 Rayburn House Office Building                                        2134 Rayburn Office Building
Washington, D.C.  20515                                                               Washington, D.C.  20515
                                                                                               
The Honorable Sam Graves                                                         The Honorable Eleanor Holmes Norton
Chairman                                                                                             Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Highways and Transit                                Subcommittee on Highways and Transit
Transportation and Infrastructure Committee                    Transportation and Infrastructure Committee
U.S. House of Representatives                                                  U.S. House of Representatives
1415 Longworth House Office Building                                   2136 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C.  20515                                                               Washington, D.C.  20515


Dear Chairman Shuster, Ranking Member DeFazio, Chairman Graves, and Ranking Member Norton,

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 the Hanna-Esty amendment that was included in the House-passed version of H.R. 22, the Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy (DRIVE) Act, which 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 are perpetually at risk of exceeding truck weight limits. 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 allows 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 for the inclusion of this important milk classification.

Sincerely,

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