Making sure haulers can keep milk moo-ving from the farm

Making sure haulers can keep milk moo-ving from the farm

Return to May 2022 newsletter

Making sure haulers can keep milk moo-ving from the farm

By Darren Turley, executive director

I had a chance to speak to the International Milk Haulers Association during its meeting in Lubbock in early May. This group is a vital part of our industry because it handles the monumental task of moving thousands of loads of milk to and from processing facilities every day.

The trucking industry continues to advance, as does the technology involved to load the tankers and sample the milk. The idea that Texas’ milk production has been able to grow even as these tasks were done manually is surprising. At the meeting, I saw new technology by Piper USA that can now sample and load milk to a very precise amount. Why does this matter? If every truckload of milk could consistently hold 200 additional pounds, that would eliminate the need for several trucks every day and hundreds of trucks per month on our roads.

It also means that a producer can have more accurate sampling and that it can be done several times per load of milk.  The technology also allows a certain amount of milk to be loaded out of a tank into a truck, and then stop and leave the rest for the next truck. That means any size trailer can be loaded, no matter what size of milk tank a dairy farm has.

Milk trucks are a never-ending discussion for the Texas Association of Dairymen (TAD). In 2017, TAD worked with the Texas Legislature to pass legislation to allow milk trucks to increase their maximum load weight from 80,000 pounds up to 90,000 pounds on approved interstate highway routes across Texas. This change allowed milk haulers to increase in size to carry 7,000 gallons instead of 6,000 gallons. These larger trailers have been slow to come to Texas, but they are now in line to start being used across the state.

The outlook of 200 more truckloads of milk per day is expected after several new milk processing plants come online over the next few years. Will we need bigger trucks in the future?  Maybe an 8,500-gallon super tanker could take milk across the Texas Panhandle like they do in other states.

At the same time, the outlook for the trucking industry across the nation is very grim. The trucking industry is short at least a record-high 80,000 drivers, due in large part to accelerated retirements in the wake of the pandemic and trucking schools that were shuttered or limited in their ability to infuse new CDL drivers into the workforce, according to American Trucking Association Chief Economist Bob Costello.

“This is sort of a warning to the entire supply chain,” Costello said, noting that if current trends hold, trucking could be short 160,000 drivers by 2030. “I really do think the supply chain problems of today are a glimpse into our future if we do not fix this.”

These driver shortages mean our industry needs to be planning today how we will transport milk in our growing Texas milk production market. But we also need to tell our milk haulers how important they are to our industry and how important they will be in the future.

TAD respects the milk haulers’ ability to transport nutritious milk across the state, and we will continue to work to mooove more milk to Texas consumers!

Return to May 2022 newsletter




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