Increasing load weights for trucks shipping cattle across America’s highways would not only save producers money, but also reduce their carbon footprint.
Jim Handley, Executive Vice President of the Florida Cattlemen’s Association, talked about the potential impact of increasing truck weights on the beef industry in a weekly Beltway Beef interview with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.
The NCBA and state affiliates submitted comments on the U.S. Department of Transportation’s comprehensive truck size and weight limit study. Handley says most cattle are transported on highways and increasing the weight limits would be vital to Florida cattle producers who ship most of their animals north or west.
The increased load limit would mean fewer shipments, saving producers fuel costs and other shipping expenses and reducing the use of resources impacting the environment.
The study considers the effect of added weights on highway safety. Handley says the change would not impact safety.
Past occurrences where heavier shipments were allowed show the additional load weight didn’t translate to a heightened risk. Handley says emergency executive orders in Florida during a period of hurricanes in 2004 and 2005 allowed trucks to carry up to 95,000 pounds. He notes there wasn’t an increase in safety issues during that 24-month timeframe.
According to Handley, the cattle industry is willing to make long-term changes to shipping procedures, should load limits increase. He mentions adding a sixth axel to trailers to maintain the current weight-to-axle ratio and keep the same braking power trailers currently have.
Handley pointed to the savings the heavier trucks would have for cattle producers. Calculating a shipment of cattle, he says a 1,750-mile trip could save $11 per head on a 500-pound calf.
Cattle producers are encouraged by the NCBA to contact local representatives to ask to grant states the authority to establish their weight limits on the federal highways within their given state. The increased weight load would make industry practices more efficient and help the environment with fewer shipments.
Handley said the increased weight guidelines would save feeder calf producers by sending at least 1,600 fewer truckloads over the highways per year. The change would save Florida’s producers $8.8 million yearly, in addition to the savings by cattle producers in other states.