Community Voices: Unleash the potential of autonomous trucking to support farming | Community Voices

I grew up as the son of a grape and peach farmer in the Central Valley. I’m proud to be from half the country’s fruit, vegetable and nut homes. Agriculture has always been a volatile business, but last year it brought even more challenges to farmers in the valley.

This year alone, they had to face severe droughts and wildfires, but a major recession spilled over the country as a whole. But today, California farmers face an unnecessary dilemma. The supply chain bottleneck caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the power beyond our control, is hindering product launch.

Nearly 80% of California’s agricultural cargo was canceled or delayed in October. The headline depicts a rotting crop in the field while waiting for the crop to be loaded onto a truck. California leaders have the opportunity to meet at that moment and help farmers in our area. Autonomous trucks have the potential to regain the freedom to move exports in the region.

Everyone sees the image of backed up ports and ships waiting weeks to unload cargo, but in reality, today’s supply chain crisis is about as much truck-related as transportation. I have. At the heart of the crisis is a year-long shortage of truck drivers that has upset the industry.

In September, Long Beach and Los Angeles Harbor announced that they would be open 24 hours a day on weekdays. But only a few weeks later, when the trucks didn’t show up outside business hours, they had to close the time. The Port of Los Angeles reported that 30 percent of their port’s plans for truck drivers were obsolete, primarily due to a shortage of drivers.

Nationally, labor shortages and high truck turnover rates are creating supply chain bottlenecks. The United States has a shortage of 80,000 truck drivers, and analysts expect that number to double by 2030.

For valley farmers, the shortage of drivers and trucks threatens their ability to export nuts and produce them in foreign markets. If instead forced to sell domestically, excess products could reduce prices for all farmers. And if California can’t meet foreign demand, farmers in other countries will.

Fortunately, self-driving car (AV) technology offers a promising solution.

Do you have a driver? no problem. Stores such as Wal-Mart and Kroger currently have self-driving cars on the road, delivering last mile groceries. Cities like Trenton, NJ are looking for self-driving buses for public transport.

California policymakers can help free us from the current crisis. Governor Gavin Newsom needs to instruct the Automobile Department to begin creating rules that will enable testing and deployment of Class 8 autonomous trucks in California. Class 8 vehicles are the standard 53-foot tractor trailers found on roads today, and their autonomous versions enable long-distance freight transport from farms to ports.

Americans are ready for unmanned trucks. According to a recent survey by Morning Consult, 53% of adults want to test self-driving cars in their state. In addition, 75% of union members expressed their support for the extended AV test.

California, which exports 44% of the state’s agricultural production, is in a unique position to develop policies that affect the world. Unleashing the potential for autonomous trucking now will prevent farmers’ uncontrolled forces from affecting our food supply in the future.

Farmers no longer need to monitor crop waste due to logistics issues. Promoting autonomous trucking ensures that products arrive at the port and farmers can maintain their livelihoods. This is essential for the well-being of California farmers and the Central Valley economy as a whole.

Originally from Bakersfield, Adam Kovacevich is the founder and CEO of the Chamber of Progress, a coalition of technology industries.

Community Voices: Unleash the potential of autonomous trucking to support farming | Community Voices Source link Community Voices: Unleash the potential of autonomous trucking to support farming | Community Voices

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