April 21, 2004 Shipping Update

As has been reported, in mid-2003 Northwest Airlines (NW) decided not to contract with the United States Postal Service (USPS) to carry domestic air mail since its share of the air mail dropped from 12% of the market to 2% under a bid contract system. This absence of service would result in serious problems for bird shippers throughout the mid-west. Representatives of the Bird Shippers of America (BSA) conveyed their concern to officials at USPS, Northwest Airlines as well as Members of the Congress. As a consequence, the USPS entered into negotiations Northwest that resulted in a contract that Northwest would carry “lives” by air mail for a $1.00 per pound surcharge plus postage. This service would, however, only apply to an original point of origin at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport.
The service has been instituted and has been successful. However, it was clear that an additional “original point of origin” would be needed to accommodate the demand for such “live” shipment by air mail. To accommodate more mid-west shippers, Detroit, Michigan had been an airport suggested to be an additional point of origin. On April 19, 2004, the USPS has informed the Bird Shippers of America that it has obtained an agreement from Northwest that Detroit, Michigan will now be an original point of origin in addition to Minneapolis -St. Paul.
Two issues that the Bird Shippers of America are continuing to pursue with the USPS and the airline industry are the temperature question and the matter that Federal Express will not carrying day-old chicks as air mail. Federal Express has an air mail contract with the USPS but refuses to agree that it is covered by the statute mandating air carriers that carry air mail must carry day-old chicks and other animals that could be air mailed. The exception under the law is that an air carrier that “regularly and commonly” refuses to carry “any” animals as cargo, are exempt from coverage. We have informed the USPS that Federal Express does, in fact, carry animals as cargo for the pet industry, medical research, zoos and aquariums, and for the agro-business community and individuals.
As to the temperature issue, shippers of day-old poultry have continually experienced the problem that some air carriers refuse to take such shipments when the temperature reaches 85 degrees Fahrenheit (F) on the tarmac. That “benchmark” of that guideline is for the shipment of live animals under the Animal Welfare Act. However, “poultry” is exempt from the Animal Welfare Act and the regulations there under.
It has been pointed out to the USPS and the airline industry that as a practical matter, the time restrictions in the regulations of four hours at 85 degrees F, in practice, would not apply to the shipment of day-old chicks. Shippers deliver the shipments in a manner for timely air transport so there will not be extended delay before a scheduled shipment and arrangements are made for immediate pick-up at the delivery point.
It has been further explained that the more practical and scientific reason is that the 85 degree F is an inappropriate temperature level in that day-old chicks are hatched in 95 to 100 degrees F and should be kept at 95-100 degree F for up to one week of age, gradually reducing it each week.
Stephen S. Boynton