According to a July 2 report from the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, the shortage of truck drivers is hitting the country in virtually every quarter.
“The ongoing shortage of qualified truck drivers continues to affect all aspects of life, often in ways consumers would never have anticipated,” the pre-holiday weekend report said. It noted that the three-day Independence Day weekend was expected to see auto travel at “levels not seen since before the start of the pandemic,” and it continued, “Already, gas stations in some states are struggling to schedule adequate fuel deliveries, which must be carried out by specially qualified drivers.”
Delivery issues and pump outages, described as temporary, had been reported during the week prior to the holiday in Colorado, the Florida Keys, central Iowa, south-central Ohio, Washington, and Oregon.
And the report went on to say what the produce industry has recognized for months: “Many fuel delivery drivers have left the business during the past year, either for retirement or for other lines of work during the pandemic, and many of the nation’s CDL schools closed over the past year as well. The trucking industry, much like the other levels of foodservice and production, is in the midst of a severe labor shortage being helped only slightly by generous sign-on bonuses and increasing employee benefits.”
With the shortage comes freight price hikes, and the report said that some imported items (specifically Peru asparagus) were expected to see movement “remain about the same even as freight prices continue to increase, with both air freight and truck rates showing marked increases week over week.”
The final note of the report was that the markets were all being negatively affected by the shortage of trucks and drivers.