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NEWARK, Del. -- Building on its commitment to help its members understand transportation issues critical to the fresh produce industry -- particularly the recently amended U.S. Department of Transportation Hours of Service (HOS) rules -- the Produce Marketing Association (PMA), based here, released via its Web site a question-and-answer guide to the new federal regulations that go into effect Oct. 1.
Titled "PMA Overview: U.S. Dept. of Transportation Driver Hours of Service Amended Regulations Summary," this resource describes how the October 2005 regulations amended the April 2003 HOS regulations, defines "agricultural commodities" and the exemption associated with them, and defines the 150 air-mile radius exemption, among other issues.
The changes "could lengthen the delivery times for fresh produce," said Kathy Means, PMA v.p. of government relations. For example, under the April 2003 HOS regulations, a driver using a sleeper berth when taking the required 10 hours off duty could split the sleeper-berth time into two periods, as long as neither period was less than two hours. However, the amended regulations require the driver using a sleeper berth to take at least eight consecutive hours in the sleeper berth, plus two consecutive hours, either in the sleeper berth, off-duty, or via any combination of the two.
"This document is an important tool for PMA members, as it explains not only the changes in the Hours of Service rules that take effect Oct. 1, but also reviews many of the key components of the overall HOS regulations," said Bill Schuler of Wilder, Ky.-based Castellini Co. "The new regulations present new challenges for many companies involved with truck transportation, especially those involved with the distribution of perishable products where timely delivery is a mandate."
In addition to the HOS rules summary, PMA recently announced the formation of a Transportation Task Force, led by PMA board members Schuler and Bud Floyd of Eden Prairie, Minn.-based C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc. The task force will examine and, when possible, propose solutions for critical produce industry transportation issues.
"One of the great values PMA brings to members is helping them understand how regulations will affect their businesses," said Floyd. "Transportation is a critical element to every produce company, and that's why PMA created the Transportation Task Force, which will clarify and simplify issues so that our members better understand what they are supposed to do, when they are supposed to do it, and what it means to them and their businesses."
Also, PMA plans to focus attention on transportation throughout its upcoming Fresh Summit International Convention & Exposition in Atlanta. Included in the Fresh Summit program are a town hall meeting, a panel discussion led by company experts on the challenges of trucking, and an education session on the complexities of global shipping.
The "PMA Overview: U.S. Dept. of Transportation Driver Hours of Service Amended Regulations Summary" is available to PMA members only on the association Web site at http://www.pma.com/transportation.