Led by PMA board members Bud Floyd of C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc., and Bill Schuler of Castellini Co, the task force will examine and, when possible, propose solutions for critical produce industry transportation issues.
The decision followed the committee's review of the results of a PMA member focus group on transportation. The first order of business for the Task Force will be to analyze concerns raised by members, including driver shortages, the reluctance of some drivers to haul produce, the impact of government regulations, and the need for more efficient distribution patterns.
"Effective transportation is at the heart of a healthy produce and floral industry. Our members ranked transportation as a top concern in the 2005 Member Needs Analysis. Those concerns have also been reinforced by discussions in board meetings and were echoed by the focus group participants," said PMA Executive Committee Chairman Steve Barnard, president, Mission Produce, Inc.
PMA President Bryan Silbermann called the focus group results "a reality check for the produce industry. While we recognize that PMA can't resolve some of the transportation issues like rising fuel costs, the Executive Committee felt strongly that PMA can play a leadership role in providing the forum for our members across the supply chain to discuss potential solutions to many of the issues discussed."
In addition to the Task Force, PMA plans to focus attention on transportation throughout its upcoming Fresh Summit convention and exposition in Atlanta. Included in the Fresh Summit program are a town hall meeting, a panel discussion led by logistics company experts on challenges of trucking, and an education session on complexities of global shipping.
The Executive Committee also approved funds to support a research proposal to develop best practices for the floral industry. The research will be conducted by Dr. Terril Nell, a well known and respected floral industry expert at the University of Florida.