Following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on this country, there has been a heightened awareness that our nation’s food supply chain could come under attack, as well.
Food security has since become a hot topic among federal, state and local agencies, and transportation has been identified as a weak point for intentional contamination in the food supply chain, known as “agroterrorism.”
OOIDA Regulatory Affairs Specialist Joe Rajkovacz has been asked to give a presentation from the produce haulers’ perspective on food security at the National Grocers Association’s Annual Convention and Supermarket Synergy Showcase in Las Vegas on Thursday, Feb. 7.
He plans to first dispel some common myths attendees to the “Food Security Benchmarking Tools: Products, People Partners and Practices” workshop may have about the produce hauling sector. His presentation will focus mainly on the “practices” portion of the workshop.
The purpose of that workshop is to “quantify the practices of retailers, restaurants, wholesalers and manufacturers to identify critical steps and points of differentiation in supply chain practices to assure food safety,” according to the convention agenda.
While many NGA attendees may recognize the names of some of the largest motor carriers, like UPS, Yellow-Roadway, Schneider and JB Hunt, Rajkovacz said he plans to educate attendees that large motor carriers only represent just over 4 percent of the total motor carriers in the U.S. Nearly 96 percent of trucks are owned by motor carriers that own 20 or less trucks.
Rajkovacz said this is why including small-business truckers when discussing food security issues is so important.
“(The Department of Homeland Security) is talking to the wrong people when discussing food security and transportation issues,” he said. “That’s because the majority of the largest motor carriers DHS is seeking input from when developing the nation’s food security plan simply don’t haul food.”
Small-business truckers haul the majority of the nation’s fresh food, but are largely excluded from meaningful discussions on food security.
“Trucking in the United States is dominated by small businesses,” he said. “When discussing food transportation security, any initiative that ignores this key fact, will likely fail to achieve stated goals and fail to provide meaningful improvement in food transportation security.”
Other key points Rajkovacz plans to address in his presentation include possible ways grocery chains can help improve threat awareness and reduce vulnerabilities for small-business truckers. He said secured overnight parking before delivery would “alleviate a whole number of vulnerabilities and help significantly improve transportation food security.”
Educational outreach to the large number of small-business motor carriers and drivers also needs addressed to help reduce vulnerabilities in food security.
– By Clarissa Kell-Holland, staff writer