Harold Sumerford Jr., American Trucking Associations chairman and J&M Tank Lines CEO, urged members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to address the impacts of inflation on the trucking industry.
He pointed to congestion, fuel prices, and labor shortages as key areas of inflationary pressure during a recent trip to Washington D.C.
“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 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.”
The CEO of the Birmingham, Alabama-based tank truck carrier 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.