America has faced tragic blows to its economy due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses have been forced to raise prices on their products or close their doors for good. Workers have been fearing for their jobs as layoffs loom over companies. In a critical time when the American people need proactive legislation that supports economic rebuilding, we are seeing policies that have increased inflation, weakened the country’s supply chain, and burdened families, farms, and businesses with economic hardships unlike any that the American people have experienced since 2008. Now, as Americans enter the holiday season when families plan Thanksgiving dinners and buy presents for loved ones, we are facing steep prices and a shortage of goods. Sadly, our depleted supply chain has far more detrimental ramifications than just a shortage of Christmas gifts.
Manufacturers have been unable to receive essential supplies for their products, a problem that forced the Grasshopper Company in Moundridge, Kansas (which produces the turf equipment used by the White House Groundskeepers) to slow production and raise prices mid-season, something they haven’t done since the Carter Administration. Consumers who rely on manufacturing products for their livelihoods are struggling to put food on their tables, and people in the business of agriculture are struggling to put food on yours. A farmer can’t harvest crops while he waits two months for a combine replacement part to arrive, which cuts his own profits and shrinks the country’s food supply. The supply chain problem doesn’t just affect farmers and businesses, it touches every American. If we don’t act soon, it will implode into a national economic emergency. Clearly, the Biden Administration is not providing solutions to problems they created, but Americans are a resilient people who won’t just sit back and watch while their country falls apart due to poor leadership – they are ready to work.
Americans are tired of watching the goods we need, many that we have already purchased, sit in shipping containers either off our coast, or in an American port. That’s why I introduced the Truckers Responding At National Shipping Ports Overcoming Retail Turmoil (TRANSPORT) Act, requiring the Secretary of Transportation to relieve congested ports during either a national state of emergency, or when ports are congested by 50% or more. My bill would require the Secretary of Transportation to issue federal grants from unused relief dollars that would let transportation workers take goods from a port of entry to a destination point. Furthermore, this bill would temporarily waive more stringent state operating standards. Amid a massive economic crisis, if we have truckers who are willing and able to drive across the country to secure and distribute goods that are backed up at ports in other states, the government should remove any red tape standing in the way of that solution.
For example, my bill would allow Kansas farmers and truckers to operate their U.S. Department of Transportation compliant trucks in California (a state that prohibits trucks older than 2011 from driving on its roads) to relieve the ports and transport goods across the country. I’ve heard from Kansas farmers and truck drivers who are prepared to drive to California and collect goods because they understand the looming catastrophic results of port congestion continuing. The executive branch caused this problem, it affects all of us, and Kansans are not going to wait around and hope that this administration fixes it.
Congested ports have far-reaching implications beyond the states in which they exist, and it is unconscionable for the entire country to suffer because of a given state’s unwillingness to solve the problem. Our nation was founded on hard work, helping our neighbor, and self-sufficiency – not reliance on the government. When we face hardships, we don’t throw our hands up and wait for someone to fix it for us. Americans get up and get to work. Implementing the TRANSPORT Act is a step towards solving the supply chain crisis, giving Americans the ability to help themselves and their neighbors, and making America’s economy strong, again.
Tracey Mann was elected to the 117th Congress of the U.S. House of Representatives and serves the “Big First” District of Kansas. Congressman Mann is a tireless advocate for Kansas agriculture and conservative Kansas values.For more opinions and ag news, go to: www.agri-pulse.com.