Friday, November 27, 2015

Report on South African farm attacks and murders submitted to UN Forum on Minority Issues

Farm attacks and murders are a unique criminal phenomenon that occurs with increasing regularity and levels of brutality in South Africa.  During such attacks, victims of all ages may be shot, assaulted with steel pipes, pangas (long, broad knives similar to machetes), axes, sticks, shovels, pitch forks, broomsticks and knives. They may also be kicked, beaten, slapped, hit and raped. Some are even horrendously tortured by pulling out their nails, pouring boiling water over their bodies or down their throats, burning them with electric irons, breaking their fingers, or dragging them behind moving vehicles before they are ultimately murdered.

On 25 November 2015, South African minority rights organization AfriForum submitted a report on farm attacks and farm murders to the UN’s Forum on Minority Issues in Genève. The aim of the submission was to bring this phenomenon to the attention of the international public domain, in order that pressure may be exerted on the South African government to declare such attacks and murders priority crimes.

The report reveals how the victims of this unique kind of crime are failed by the South African authorities. In the weeks leading up to this submission, approximately 100 000 South Africans lent their support to the campaign.

In his address to the Forum on Minority Issues, Ernst Roets, Deputy CEO of AfriForum, specifically focused on the failure of the South African criminal justice system to ensure that the perpetrators of these crimes are prosecuted.  “According to AfriForum’s research, a mere 23% of all attackers are ever sentenced,” he said.  There are numerous examples of cases where the victims and the families of murdered farmers have had to look on helplessly as perpetrators were released due to the shoddy work done by investigating officers or prosecutors.

The risk of farmers being murdered in South Africa is four times higher than that of the average South African resident. These unacceptable levels of violence have dramatic consequences for food security in the country as well, yet the South African government refuses to treat farm attacks as priority crimes or even to release official statistics pertaining to these attacks.  “The last time that any figures had been released by the state, was in 2007.  At that stage the statistics already indicated a 25% increase in the attacks,” Roets said.  “Without proper data, it is impossible to address the problem significantly.”

AfriForum employs a full-time criminologist, Lorraine Claassen, to compile its own statistics of current attacks.  She also investigates the reasons for this criminal phenomenon that plays havoc with the stability and future of agriculture in South Africa.  In addition, AfriForum studies ways in which victims can be supported and ultimately that attacks might be prevented.

Several independent publications also examine South African farm murders.  Land of Sorrow (compiled by Dirk Hermann and Chris van Zyl, Kraal Publishers, 2011) describes the events surrounding more than 2 610 farm attacks that took place from 1990 to 2010.  In Farm murders, victims tell their stories (Bargain Books, Pretoria, 2014), author Carla van der Spuy gives an account of the personal experiences of ten survivors.

Thursday, November 26, 2015


This festive season, or simply the holidays, is a time for gathering and celebrating with family and friends, gift giving, reflection and thanks. To commemorate this time of year, the U.S. Census Bureau presents the following holiday-related facts and figures from its collection of statistics.        

Rush to the Stores

$24.5 billion

Estimated retail sales by the nation’s department stores (including leased departments) in December 2014. This represents an estimated 41.2 percent jump from the previous month when retail sales were estimated at $17.3 billion. No other estimated month-to-month increase in department store sales last year was as large. Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Monthly Retail Trade Survey

Note: Leased departments are separately owned businesses operated as departments or concessions of other service establishments or of retail businesses, such as a separately owned shoeshine parlor in a barber shop, or a beauty shop in a department store. Also, retail sales and inventory estimates have not been adjusted to account for seasonal or pricing variations.


The estimated percentage of total 2014 sales for department stores (including leased departments) in December. For jewelry stores, the estimated percentage was 18.2 percent. Sources: U.S. Census Bureau, Monthly Retail Trade Survey and


The estimated growth in inventories by our nation’s department stores (excluding leased departments) from Aug. 31 to Nov. 30, 2014. Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Monthly Retail Trade Survey

$48.3 billion

Estimated value of retail sales by electronic shopping and mail-order houses in December 2014 — the highest estimated total for any month last year. Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Monthly Retail Trade Survey


The number of electronic shopping and mail-order houses in business in 2013. These businesses, which employed 383,066 workers in the pay period including March 12, are a popular source of holiday gifts. Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2013 County Business Patterns

Christmas Trees and Decorations

$1.2 billion

The value of U.S. imports of Christmas tree ornaments from China between January and September 2015. China was the leading country of origin for such items. Similarly, China was the leading foreign source of artificial Christmas trees shipped to the United States ($163.3 million worth) during the same period. Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Foreign Trade Statistics


Estimated number of U.S. producers who grew poinsettias in 2014. California, North Carolina and Florida ranked in the top three for sales of the popular holiday plant. Source: USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service (pg. 42)

Where Toys are Made


The number of locations that primarily produced dolls, toys and games in 2013; they employed 6,538 workers in the pay period including March 12. California led the nation with 86 establishments. Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2013 County Business Patterns

Holiday Names

Place names associated with the holiday season consist of a dozen places named Holly, including Mount Holly, N.C. (population 14,016) and Holly Springs, Miss. (7,574). There is Snowflake, Ariz. (5,644), Santa Claus, Ind. (2,479), North Pole, Alaska (2,178), Noel, Mo. (1,831) and — if you know about reindeer — Dasher, Ga. (959) and Rudolph, Wis. (433). There is also Unity, N.H. (1,615) and Peace, N.D. (28). Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Population Estimates

Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa

Estimated proportion of the nation’s potatoes produced in Idaho and Washington during 2014. Potatoes are a popular dish served during the holidays. Source: USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service

$1.7 billion

The estimated product shipments value of candles in 2013 by U.S. manufacturers. Many of these candles are lit during Diwali (Nov. 11), Hanukkah (Dec. 6-14) and Kwanzaa (Dec. 26-Jan. 1) celebrations. Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2012 Economic Census, Industry Series


The estimated percentage by which the U.S. Postal Service surpassed its own projections for package deliveries in December 2014. This marks an increase of 18 percent from package deliveries in December 2013. Sources: U.S. Postal Service and

Del Monte Green Bean Index

Shown below are a list of U.S. states ranked according to the highest concentration of Thanksgiving green-bean casserole eaters:



1.  Louisiana:  60% (expect to eat green-bean casserole this Thanksgiving)
2.  Oklahoma:  58%
3.  Kentucky:  57%
4.  Florida:  54%
5.  Wisconsin:  52%
6.  Missouri:  51%
7.  Colorado:  50%
8.  Kansas:  49%
9.  New Hampshire:  48%
10.  Maine:  46%
11.  Vermont:  45%
12.  California:  44%
13.  Mississippi:  43%
14.  Idaho:  41%
15.  Utah:  41%
16.  Texas:  40%
17.  Illinois:  39%
18.  Ohio:  38%
19.  New York:  37%
20.  Michigan:  37%
21.  Alabama:  36%
22.  North Carolina:  36%
23.  New Mexico:  35%
24.  Maryland:  34%
25.  Tennessee:  32%
26.  Massachusetts:  32%
27.  New Jersey:  31%
28.  South Carolina:  30%
29.  Pennsylvania:  29%
30.  Virginia:  29%
31.  Arizona:  29%
32.  Minnesota:  28%
33.  Indiana:  27%
34.  Georgia:  26%
35.  Delaware:  25%
36.  Oregon:  23%
37.  Rhode Island:  23%
38.  Connecticut:  22%
39.  Nevada:  22%
40.  Montana:  21%
41.  Iowa:  21%
42.  Washington:  21%
43.  West Virginia:  20%
44.  Alaska:  20%
45.  Arkansas:  20%
46.  Nebraska:  19%
47.  Wyoming:  19%
48.  South Dakota:  19%
49.  North Dakota:  18%
50.  Hawaii:  17%


Del Monte also asked U.S. and Missouri residents to rate their favorite "secret ingredient" -- a single, creative item that can be added to the casserole's iconic green bean, cream of mushroom, and french fried onion flavors to make it unique and different.  According to the survey, America's Top 10 most-wanted secret ingredients for green bean casserole are:

1.  Bacon (34%)
2.  Mushrooms (17%)
3.  Cheese (11%)
4.  Grilled Onions (8%)
5.  Almonds (7%)
6.  Sausage (6%)
7.  Bread crumbs or crushed crackers (5.6%)
8.  Garlic (5.2%)
9.  Jalapeños or hot sauce (4%)
10.  Sour cream (3%)


Del Monte also ranked its Top 5 most popular green bean casserole recipes (based on frequency on 2015 Thanksgiving dinner tables):

1.  Classic Green Bean Casserole:

2.  Bacon and Cheddar Green Bean Casserole:

3.  Sautéed Mushroom and Green Bean Casserole:

4.  Creole Sausage and Green Bean Casserole:

5.  Main Dish Green Bean Casserole

19 Dutch Firms Plan Investments in Rwanda, Reports KT Press

KIGALI, Rwanda, Nov. 25, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Upon hearing about Rwanda being a country with abundant livestock and horticulture opportunities, 19 Dutch companies flew in, to explore prospects.
The firms include: seven in livestock and 12 in horticulture. Among them is Pluriton, a company specializing in exporting eggs and chicks to Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Green innovators group, Bosman Van Zaal, and horticultural automation suppliers are also among the prospective investors.
With the help of the Rwandan Embassy in the Netherlands, the delegation, which arrived on November 22nd in the capital Kigali, were presented with several opportunities in the country as well as appointments with local companies.
Matchmaking sessions and workshops were held at the AgriProFocus conference 'Promoting Innovation and Trade in Horticulture' from 25 to 27 November, where over 500 producers, traders and input suppliers from all over East Africa gathered.
This arrangement was organized under the banner of "the Netherlands African Business Council and partners. Which included the Rwandan Embassy in the Netherlands, SPARK, RDB, PSF, AgriProFocus and Greenport Holland.
Part of the delegation interested in livestock visited the Rwanda Animal Resources Development Authority, livestock development organizations: animal feed factories, large meat and dairy processors and poultry farms.
There were also individual business and networking meetings.
Rwanda's dairy sector has experienced rapid growth with a reported milk surplus, presenting several opportunities along the supply chain ranging from breeding, fodder production and milk quality control to processing.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, the country's poultry sector is booming and offers investment opportunities including; hatchery, fodder production, and egg production.
For example chicken meat production has increased by 78% over the last 10 years and egg production stands at 32% growth in the same time period.
Rwanda also presents the opportunity to utilize gaps in the horticulture sector. While the country still imports fruits and vegetables from neighboring countries, its untapped fertile volcanic soil presents excellent prospects for local producers and traders to better meet local demand.
The country also offers a large demand for skills, technologies and products that can increase production in horticulture sector.
Investors can also utilize the demand for fertilizers, irrigation equipment, greenhouses, processing equipment and seeds.
Rwanda's steady 7% growth rate, stable government and growing consumer base present the ideal opportunity for smart investors. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Alarming Public Health Study Documents Effects of Bee-killing Insecticides on People in Japan

Center for Food Safety Concerned Rural Americans Face Similar Risks
WASHINGTON, DC (November 18, 2015)—From 2006 to 2014, Japanese doctors documented a new cluster of symptoms reported by hundreds of rural Japanese people: patients suffering from recent memory loss, finger tremors, and combined symptoms of headache, general fatigue, palpitation/chest pain, abdominal pain, muscle pain, and cough. Public health researchers later associated these symptoms with the level of exposure to agricultural neonicotinoid insecticides, used on fresh fruits, tea, rice and a host of other human food crops. Urine sampling showed the level of symptoms correlated with the amount of neonicotinoid consumption.
Last week, the public health team composed of Japanese, American and African researchers published the alarming story of those patients. The patients lived in rural communities and were being exposed to agricultural chemicals mostly through ingestion of pesticide-contaminated food and also perhaps by blowing sprays and dusts in a heavily-farmed, densely-populated area. Residential, pet and other exposures may also have contributed. The people involved were not farmworkers and did not have unusually high occupational exposures.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Nation's Health Groups Oppose Anti-Science Appropriations Riders Designed to Gut Dietary Guidelines for Americans

WASHINGTON—More than 50 of the country’s leading medical, public health, and nutrition organizations are writing Congressional leaders to oppose any anti-science riders on the expected omnibus appropriations measures that would undermine the scientific basis and public health benefits of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Riders proposed in the House and Senate would prevent the Guidelines from advising children and adults about the well-founded relationships between sugar and cavities and between sedentary lifestyles and obesity, and exclude other common-sense policies, including recommendations related to physical activity.  Similar riders may surface in negotiations for an appropriations bill to fund the federal government for fiscal year 2016.

“The Dietary Guidelines for Americans provides a critical foundation for local, state, and federal efforts to improve the health of children and adults in our communities,” the letter states.   “Two-thirds of Americans are overweight or have obesity, and one-half suffer from diet-related chronic disease.  Alarmingly, nearly one in three school-age children and adolescents is overweight or has obesity, and more and more children are showing signs of chronic diseases that were once adult-onset only, such as type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.”

The letter was signed by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Dental Association, American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association, American Institute for Cancer Research,  American Public Health Association, American Society for Nutrition, Center for Science in the Public Interest, Consumer Federation of America, National Alliance for Hispanic Health, National PTA, Public Health Institute, Trust for America’s Health, Union of Concerned Scientists, and many other organization. The National Association of County and City Health Officials signed it, as did the health departments of Baltimore, Boston, Columbus, Minneapolis, and New York City.

“Science, not politics, should drive the federal government’s efforts to revise the guidelines,” the letter states.

The Guidelines, jointly prepared by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services, forms the basis of the government’s basic nutrition advice to its citizens as well as government-funded nutrition programs, such as the school lunch program. The Guidelines’ advice is based on a thorough science review by a panel of non-government experts, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee.

“Almost 38 percent of American adults are obese, up from almost 35 percent two years ago, according to the Centers for Disease Control, and millions of Americans suffer from such diet-related health problems as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer,” said CSPI president Michael F. Jacobson.  “The nation’s basic nutrition advice for Americans should be written by scientists and not by politicians doing the bidding of the food industry.”

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


Those Who Serve Will be Served Buttermilk Pancakes with Strawberries, Blueberries and Whipped Topping

GLENDALE, CALIF. (October 29, 2015) – IHOP® restaurants will once again honor the 22 million Veterans currently living in the United States and more than 1.3 million Armed Forces members currently serving in the military by offering them a free stack of Red, White & Blue pancakes on Veteran’s Day.

Participating IHOP restaurants throughout the United States will serve a stack of Red, White & Blue pancakes – buttermilk pancakes crowned with glazed strawberries, blueberry compote and whipped topping – free for Veterans and Active Duty Military on Veteran’s Day, November 11, from 7 a.m.-7 p.m.

“Having served as an Army Ranger and infantry officer, I am proud to be part of a brand that honors the brave men and women who have dedicated their lives to keeping us safe and free,” said Darren Rebelez, President, International House of Pancakes LLC.  “We are looking forward to having our nation’s heroes as guests at their local IHOP, and personally thanking them for their service.”

Veterans and Active Duty Military simply show proof of military service to receive their free Red, White & Blue pancakes. Proof includes: US Uniformed Services ID Card, US Uniformed Services Retired ID Card, Current Leave and Earnings Statement (LES), veterans organization card (i.e. American Legion, VFW, etc.), photograph of yourself in US military uniform, wearing uniform, DD214, military dog tags, and citation or commendation.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Berries the “Go To” Health Food: International Collaboration of Scientists Builds the Case

Scientists in North Carolina and New Zealand are collaborating and engaging with growers to build the scientific evidence to convince consumers that berries are nature’s “go to” health food.

Kannapolis, NC- When consumers crave tasty, healthy and convenient foods, scientists at the NC Research Campus (NCRC) and the New Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Research want them to think of berries.  Small, portable, delicious and extremely nutritious, they know that berries are nature’s original “go to” health food.

They also know that positioning berries as a “go to” health food starts with expanding the existing dossier of scientifically-validated health claims. Scientists from both research centers met at the NCRC recently to do just that. They shared research findings that provide more evidence that the phytochemical content in berries benefits cognition, the immune system, inflammation control, human performance and exercise recovery as well as reduces the effects of health conditions like asthma and food allergies.

“This was a particularly intense scientific exchange,” commented Mary Ann Lila, PhD, director of the NC State Plants for Human Health Institute (PHHI) at the NCRC. “I go to a lot of berry and health-related meetings worldwide, but I was amazed at how much new, never before presented research angles and trajectories were coming out of these presentations and discussions.  There was an astounding level of complementary research approaches discovered, and we realized some unique synergies that could come out of our collaborations.”

TC Chadderton, Plant & Food Research’s operations manager for food innovation, added, “The goal of the workshop and our scientific collaboration is to bring leading research groups together to align our research programs and share approaches that will help the berry industry in both countries.”

Industry Applications

In the US, strawberries alone are a $2.4 billion business followed in value by blueberries, raspberries and blackberries. The berry industry in New Zealand, which includes blackcurrants, blueberries and strawberries, is valued at $100 million. The New Zealand government and food producers are taking a renewed interest in berries, which is why they sent Jarrod Robinson to represent them at the workshop.

“I represent a collective of indigenous growers and horticulturists who are working together to respond to a high-value nutrition challenge from the New Zealand government,” commented Robinson, who is the new product development manager for Kono, a New Zealand company that grows apples, kiwifruit, pears and hops and also produces seafood and wine. “We want the best berries to grow on our land, and we want the science behind the crops to really understand what these berries can do as we develop the whole commercial continuum from growing to consumer products with health claims.”

Scientists discussed post-harvest technologies that preserve nutrient and phytochemical content as well as improved breeding methods that maximize genetic traits, all of which contributes to value-added berry varieties for producers to grow and consumers to enjoy.

Industry applications extend to new product development. Lila, whose relationship with Plant & Food Research started in 1999, presented a technology she helped develop that fuses polyphenols with protein flour to create a functional food ingredient that can be added to products from snack bars to cookies to improve their health benefits.

Collaboration Continues

The joint meeting also presented scientists like Roger Hurst, PhD, Science Group Leader of the Food & Wellness Group at Plant & Food Research and adjunct professor at Massey University, and David Nieman, DrPH, director of the Appalachian State University Human Performance Laboratory at the NCRC, with a chance to showcase data from a collaborative study conducted with students at Queens University in Charlotte, NC last year. The study, which PHHI and Dole Food Company are also part of, examined the influence of berry polyphenols on physiological adaptations to high intensity exercise training. As a second phase of the research, Hurst and Nieman are planning a metabolomics study and arranging for a second visiting scholar from New Zealand to work at the NCRC.

“Both organizations are seeking scientific innovation that leads to improved fruits and extracts and a better understanding of the health benefits of berries,” Nieman said. “In the end, that benefits growers and people of all ages who want healthy and convenient food options.”

But a collaborative research study and one workshop are only the first steps toward convincing consumers that berries are the “go to” health food. Plans are already underway for a follow-on 2016 workshop in New Zealand, involving NCRC scientists and a larger contingent of NZ food producers.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Celebrities, regular guys grow beards for cancer prevention

Annual No-Shave November kicks off to benefit cancer organizations
WASHINGTON, D.C. —Let it grow, let it grow, let it grow. 
Thousands of men across the country are ditching the razors and growing their beards for No-Shave November, a month-long campaign to raise awareness and funding for cancer prevention, research and education.
During the month of November, men are encouraged to grow their beards out and donate the money they would typically spend on shaving and grooming to the cause. They can also solicit donations from family, friends and co-workers who want to see them with long beards or mustaches. The TODAY show stars—Matt Lauer, Al Roker, Carson Daly and Willie Giest—have already started their friendly competition, and will be joined by regular guys all across the country who are getting hairy to raise money and awareness.
Proceeds from the campaign will benefit the Prevent Cancer Foundation, the American Cancer Society, Fight Colorectal Cancer and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
“No-Shave November is an innovative campaign developed by eight children to honor their dad, who died of cancer. It’s designed to get people talking about the importance of healthy behaviors and family medical histories while funding cancer research,” said Jan Bresch, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the Prevent Cancer Foundation. “The Prevent Cancer Foundation is honored to be a partner and beneficiary of this wonderful event. We encourage men—and women—to drop the razors and let it grow!”
You can sign up to be a part of No-Shave November at Share photos of your progress on social media with the hashtags #NoShaveNovember, #LetItGrow and #PreventCancer.

Sustainable Ag Expo Educates Growers and Farmers Cross-industry sustainable farming conference returns for 11th year

November 3, 2015 (Paso Robles, Calif.) – The 11th Annual Sustainable Ag Expo will take place November 16-17, 2015, at the Madonna Inn Expo Center in San Luis Obispo, California. (

Presented by the Vineyard Team, the Sustainable Ag Expo offers sustainable farming education for growers and farmers across crop types. “The Expo started as a way to explore various issues affecting different types of ag professionals,” said Kris Beal, Executive Director for The Vineyard Team. “It is a chance for farmers and researchers to come together, learn from each other, and engage in conversations with some of the brightest in the industry. Not only do we address production practices, we’re exploring initiatives from buyers like Campbell and Cisco that are influencing behavior."

The Sustainable Ag Expo launched in 2004 when the Vineyard Team, actively conducting progressive research and education in vineyards, recognized that other crop industries (e.g. orchards, row crops, berries, and rangeland) engaged in forward-thinking and innovative work from which fellow farmers could learn. To that end, the Sustainable Ag Expo was developed to share information across crop types on important topics such as energy and water conservation, holistic management, integrated pest management and soil management.

Sessions include challenges facing California agriculture, management of invasive insect pests, floor management in perennial and annual cropping systems, the importance of bees to California agriculture, sustainable fertility management, disease and virus management in vineyards, irrigation during the drought, sustainability initiatives in the agri-food supply chain and how to improve practices and performance. Lastly, a law and regulations session will be held to conclude the event.

With 40 speakers, session highlights include focusing on water availability and quality; access to affordable labor; and new federal air quality standards that may have significant impacts on farming operations in the future presented by Dr. Jay Lund, Director for the Center for Watershed Science and Professor at UC Davis, Bryan Little, Director Employment Policy, California Farm Bureau Federation and Nancy Levin, Air Division, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 9.  Additionally, Dr. Michelle Moyer, Washington State University, will present new research on powdery mildew monitoring, detection and management along with Dr. Renaud Travadon of UC Davis and Larry Bettiga, University of California Viticulture Farm Advisor.

The Vineyard Team is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote sustainable vineyard practices such as water conservation, integrated pest management, habitat diversity, and protection of water quality and human resources. Established in the mid-1990s when the term “sustainable” was far less mainstream than it is today, the Vineyard Team has enjoyed an impressive track record, earning awards and recognition from a broad variety of entities including the Environmental Protection Agency and California Department of Pesticide Regulation.

To learn more about the Sustainable Ag Expo, register for the event, or explore exhibitors and sponsors, please visit

Visit to learn more about the Vineyard Team and its SIP™ (Sustainability in Practice) Certification Program. The Vineyard Team can be reached at 805.466.2288.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

More than 70 Leading Agriculture Organizations Call on Congress to Pass the ‘SAFE Trucking Act’

Groups Highlight Safety & Efficiency Benefits of the Bipartisan Legislation & Urge Congress to Include It as an Amendment to Highway Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. (November 3, 2015) – More than 70 of the nation’s leading food and agriculture associations – including the American Farm Bureau, American Fruit and Vegetable Processors and Growers Coalition, American Soybean Association,  International Dairy Foods Association, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, National Grain and Feed Association, and the National Farmers Union – today sent a letter urging Congress to include the Safe, Flexible and Efficient (SAFE) Trucking Act (H.R. 3488) as an amendment to the highway reauthorization legislation, which is expected to go before the full House this week.

In the letter, the organizations wrote: “In the agriculture and food industries, our farms and businesses are growing and making products more resourcefully, but outdated federal transportation rules force trucks to leave the farm and our plants when they are partly empty. By giving states the option to raise the federal gross vehicle weight limit from 80,000 pounds to 91,000 pounds for trucks equipped with six axles rather than the typical five, the SAFE Trucking Act would safely modernize truck shipments on Interstate highways by reducing the number of trucks needed to move our commodities and products through better utilization of existing capacity.” 

In its most recent “Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Study,” the U.S. Department of Transportation found that six-axle trucks can safely weigh up to 91,000 pounds—the configuration allowable under the SAFE Trucking Act—while yielding significant truckload reductions, pavement wear savings and environmental efficiency benefits without diverting significant freight from rail. The U.S. DOT has also stated that the configuration is compliant with the federal bridge formula, and that wide use of the SAFE Trucking Act configuration would not cause any increase in one-time rehabilitation costs for Interstate bridges. Critically, the SAFE Trucking Act enables the U.S. DOT to require additional safety equipment for these vehicles before states can put these trucks to work.

“On behalf of America’s food and agriculture community, we urge you to support Representative Ribble’s common-sense amendment because it is good for taxpayers, consumers, farmers, businesses, highway safety and the environment,” the groups concluded in the letter.

To read the associations’ full letter to Congress, click here.