OOIDA member begins work on D.C. freight panel

By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor | Wednesday, June 26, 2013

He’s a trucker, farmer, businessman and member of the OOIDA Board of Directors, and now Terry Button can add national freight adviser to the list.

Button was in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, June 25, to attend the introductory meeting of the National Freight Advisory Committee, a diverse group of professionals who will advise the Department of Transportation on ways to improve the national freight system.

Button, one of 47 people appointed by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in late May, represents OOIDA on the panel that also brings together professionals from state highway departments, airports, railways, retail chains, ports and government.

The introductory meeting gave Button, an OOIDA senior member who operates Terry L. Button Farms in Rushville, N.Y., a chance to speak on behalf of small-business truckers and owner-operators.

“I let them know that owner-operators and small fleet businesses haul over 40 percent of over-highway freight,” Button said. “I said I’m only one person but I’m glad I’m sitting here representing the members and owner-operators who realize every day how valuable we are. Whether it’s an owner-operator with a step-deck operation or an owner-operator pulling a load of lettuce or meat to the market – our owner-operators and small-business members get it done because we go above and beyond what needs to be done.”

Button said Secretary LaHood spoke to the group to reiterate President Obama’s goal of doubling U.S. exports by 2015.

“Secretary LaHood came across that this is something our country needs, that the president has really wanted this to get done in this term,” Button said.

Part of the group’s charge is to advise the DOT on the creation of the National Freight Strategic Plan, a mandate that passed as part of MAP-21, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century.

Button says the diversity of the group will make for interesting discussions.

“The Department of Transportation brought in lots of different types of very reputable and knowledgeable people and caring people,” he said. “Overall, the people I’ve met are good at what they do in such a broad spectrum of our industry whether it was maritime, highway, barge, rail, legislative, data collection, people from the private sector, people from the government sector.”

The committee plans to meet in November to begin working on its recommendations.

“Land Line Now” Staff Reporter Reed Black contributed to this story.

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