SAN DIEGO — Two new trucking rules — one from California and the other federal — could have wide-ranging effects on the fresh produce industry from the shipper all the way to the retailer.
A panel of industry experts outlined the two regulations and their implications during the Expert Council Workshop Series, May 15, at United Fresh 2013.
Of the two, the California Air Resources Board’s Transportation Refrigeration Unit, is the more challenging, said Kenny Lund, vice president, support services, for The Allen Lund Co. Inc., La Canada, and chairman of the United Fresh Supply Chain & Logistics Council.
The rule requires all reefer units operating within California or entering the state to have engines manufactured in 2007 or later.
To comply, older units can be retrofitted with an Environmental Protection Agency-approved filter designed to remove 85% of the particular matter produced.
But the filters cost at least $8,500 and have been plagued by performance issues, so few operators have chosen this route, Lund said.
“It’s simple economics,” he said. “Coming out of this recession, they don’t have the financial wherewithal to comply with some of these rules.”
In surveying the hundreds of small owner-operators that Alan Lund contracts with to haul produce, only 25%-30% meet the CARB regulation, Lund said.
“So if you’re 25% compliant, how do you eliminate 75% of the trucks and move half of the U.S.’s produce? And how can the state (of California) regulate interstate commerce?”
Although CARB doesn’t have the authority to stop truckers, it teams with the California Highway Patrol, said Joe Rajkovacz, director of governmental affairs and communications for the Western Trucking Alliance, Upland.
In addition, CARB’s two dozen or so inspectors focus on areas where large numbers of truckers congregate, such as the Flying J Truck Stop near Barstow, to perform spot inspections.
Rajkovacz said he’s already heard anecdotal stories of out-of-state truckers refusing to haul into California because of the regulations.
Not only can CARB ticket drivers of non-compliant reefer units, but it also can fine shippers, truck brokers and even produce receivers for knowingly using non-compliant truckers, he said.
The state already has made headline by fining an Ontario, Calif., egg producer $300,000 for using non-compliant units.
New Jersey and Oregon also are exploring similar rules, Rajkovacz said.