On the heels of the American Rescue Plan, which among other things, includes $28.6 billion for the Restaurants Act and direct grants (up to a maximum of $5 million) to cover lost tasting room sales in 2020, the Biden administration is working to pass the American Jobs Plan—massive legislation that would target the nation’s infrastructure.
Ask any commercial trucker, the condition of the interstate highway system and key arteries used to haul freight, including roadways surrounding major port gateways along all three coasts, are in terrible shape and overcrowded. Poor infrastructure is a costly drag on transportation providers and the businesses that rely on them, including the wine industry.
Whether wine is imported or exported from the U.S., shipped domestically from California or another state, or delivered from a retailer’s facility to the consumer’s door, chances are it was handled by trucks.
Trucks move 72.5% of the nation’s freight by weight, which is equivalent to 80.4% of the freight bill, according to the American Trucking Associations. That percentage really hasn’t changed too much over recent years.
The trucking industry is comprised mostly of small operators: 97.4% operate fewer than 20 trucks, and 91.3% operate 6 or fewer trucks. Covid-19 hit these small operators extremely hard.
Moreover, the trucking industry continues to suffer a severe driver shortage. The current workforce is aging and retiring, while recruiting young drivers to the profession is difficult.
Industry surveys show that chronic congestion on the roads is, not surprisingly, a feature of the job that is much disliked. It’s wearing on the drivers, and it cuts into their earning ability as it takes longer to turn loads.
Meanwhile, the volume of freight moving on the nation’s roads is rising. The monthly Global Port Tracker report revealed record import volumes at major container ports in January and the forecast calls for a 20-25% increase in import volumes for the first half of 2021.
“The United States of America is the wealthiest country in the world, yet we rank 13th when it comes to the overall quality of our infrastructure,” stated a press release from the White House.
At VinRoutes, we support the American Jobs Plan and the infrastructure investment it provides across the board—to businesses, freight interests, the American public, and the wine industry.