After a quarter century of advocacy, AFTC has successfully shifted the legislative and regulatory landscape to ensure the safe and efficient movement of America's food supply.
As the linchpin of the nation’s supply chain, America’s trucking industry touches every part of the. U.S. economy. Our industry is as varied as the freight we haul, and serving each sector of the economy presents motor carriers with unique logistical challenges and different operational requirements.
ATA’s Agriculture Transporters Conference was born from this reality 25 years ago with the mission of advocating on behalf of ag haulers. Its initial charge: to ensure flexibility in Hours of Service during the busiest time of year, understanding that agriculture is seasonal by nature, and that perishable goods come with distinct and time-sensitive needs.
The first win came in 1995. Working through its ATC members, ATA secured the agricultural exemption to federal HOS regulations in the National Highway Designation Act of 1995. The enactment of this key provision was a watershed moment for agricultural transportation, establishing critically-needed flexibility for ag haulers, enabling them to ensure the safety and efficiency of the nation’s food supply.
Thanks to the leadership of the ATC’s inaugural chairman, Bud Wallace, the conference established a legislative precedent that continues to this day. It would be the first of many wins to come.
In 2003, the conference changed its name to the Agricultural and Food Transporters Conference, reflecting the growth of both the tucking and food product industries. And while continuing to advocate on HOS issues, the conference broadened its portfolio to include food safety and waste, ag definitions, taxation, young drivers and infrastructure, among others.
AFTC has since grown into the leading voice of agricultural and food transportation, spearheading large advocacy coalitions to ensure trucking’s voice is heard throughout supply chain discussions and to keep transportation issues at the forefront of agricultural policy debates and decisions. AFTC’s broad reach and wide impact was recently witnessed during the COVID-19 pandemic, when foodbanks ran short of staples and hunger soared across the country. The conference took charge, marshalling together a coalition of some 80 trades and NGOs across the supply chain to divert surplus product to food banks before it turned to waste.
The conference is also a driving force behind the industry’s push for greater federal investment in infrastructure. The security of our country’s food supply rests on the integrity of our infrastructure, and maintaining the safe and efficient transportation of food from farm to table will require significant improvements to our nation’s ailing road and bridge network.
After a quarter century of advocacy, AFTC has successfully shifted the legislative and regulatory landscape to ensure ag and food haulers have the tools and clearance they need to keep their trucks moving and our nation fed. As we turn the page on a tumultuous year in our country’s history, 2021 promises to be one of enormous opportunity.
Together with the ATA Federation, the. Agricultural and Food Transporters Conference looks forward to securing many more victories on the road ahead.
Jon Samson is executive director of the Agricultural and Food Transporters Conference. For an extended history of AFTC, click here.