Transportation Update as of April 18, 2005

According to the U.S. Posatal Service the following is transpiring:
1. American Air is back to about 60% of their network volume and the results are very encouraging. They’re ramping up their transfer operation through Dallas/Fort Worth this week and will be fully ramped up in another 3 weeks – this will provide additional opportunities for the transport of lives.
2. A proposal from a cargo carrier for the transport of lives throughout the country has been received – rates are lane specific. It is being evaluated as to where they can best be utilized.
3. Northwest signed with Airborne. They will begin transporting mail out of their 5 hubs beginning May 14th. We hope they will expand to other hubs later. These 5 hubs are: Minneapolis, Detroit, Memphis, Los Angeles, & San Francisco.
4. US Air is in the first week of their test – results are encouraging as well. As they bring up more markets the options for the transport of lives will increase. They will start taking lives out of Syracuse on April 23rd.
5. Airborne doesn’t accept lives today, however, they are reconsidering their position. The USPS is cautiously optimistic. If Airborne does accept lives it will open up a very large area for our transportation of lives.

Update: American, US Air, NW, & Airborne

Hey, we’re making progress.
We realize how tough things have been out there for many of you in the poultry shipping world these last few months. However the most recent update from Mr. Steve Boynton, our lobbyist, is very encouraging. Here is what is transpiring between the USPS and its air carriers:
1. American Airlines is in its third week of an eight week test. (The USPS pulled their contract earlier and has now reinstated them under some restrictions.) According to Mr. John Bonafilia, of the USPS, the “early results are encouraging.”
2. On April 8th, mail was tendered to U.S. Air for its test. (U.S. Air’s contract was pulled at the same time as American’s.) “The first two days were encouraging.”
3. Northwest Air, which currently has a separate contract with the USPS to carry lives at a $.80 per pound additional surcharge, is actively carrying lives from Minneapolis and Detroit. The USPS reports Northwest has signed a contract with Airborne to start taking lives on May 14th from presumably Memphis, Los Angeles, and New York. (These cities have not been confirmed by the USPS but it is believed by us that these cities will be served.)
4. The USPS is currently in negotiations with a cargo carrier to take lives out of markets where limited commercial lifts however, costs may be a factor here. We were informed by the USPS they will know more in two weeks on this issue.
In conclusion, Mr. Boynton adds, and I quote,
“This latter message (Number 4 above) is really a two edged sword: Firstly, it is encouraging that efforts are being made to expand the service, but, secondly, the USPS does not seem to acknowledge that it has an unequivocal Constitutional and statutory duty to provide mail service to postal patrons. The law does not say that the government, through the USPS, will provide service unless it is too costly, or basically, too much trouble.”
Thank you all for your continued financial and moral support in these most crucial issues.

Grassley’s press release and letter to the USPS

Good morning everybody.
For years America’s hatcheries and family farmers have relied on the United States Postal Service to safely and efficiently deliver live, day-old poultry. They continue to use this effective delivery method because of legislation passed by the U.S. Congress a few years ago.
The new law does not allow air carriers to discriminate against live chicks. If the carrier provides shipment for any live animals, it must provide the service for day-old chicks.
I’ve recently been notified of failures to comply with the new law. A couple of airlines have announced procedures that resemble the problems that caused Congress to pass the law in the first place.
The Postal Service is setting a dangerous precedent if it allows any air carrier to unilaterally make policy changes contrary to existing law. The decision by airlines to limit or eliminate air transportation for live chicks could devastate, if not destroy the hatchery industry and I will do everything I can to support Iowa’s hatcheries.
Because of these allegations, this week I’m sending a letter to the Postal Service to look into possible noncompliance with the law.
Grassley’s letter:
April 5th, 2005
Paul Vogel, Vice President
Network Operations
United States Postal Service
475 L’Enfant Plaza, SW
Washington, DC 02060-7100
Dear Mr. Vogel:
Considerable time has passed since Congress enacted the provision in 39 USC §5402(d)(2)(A) requiring air carriers to accept as postal matter air mail shipments of day-old poultry and other animals as postal regulations will permit. This statute, as implemented, indeed, saved the poultry and game bird producers from a catastrophic economic crisis, if not a total collapse of the industry.
Representatives of the industry have kept me informed as to the implementation of the new law as it pertains to the service you provide to producers as well as to their customers. I am grateful that the United States Postal Service (USPS) has attempted to resolve many individual problems that have recently arisen.
However, I am disturbed by recent developments that seem to be systemic failures. Delta Airlines decision to not carry air mail if it involved a transfer and United Airlines announcement that it would not carry live chicks between Dallas and Denver seem to resemble the problems that caused Congress to pass the law. These actions are clearly in conflict with the statute that does not allow an air carrier to unilaterally modify its policy regarding “when, where and what” it will transport by air mail.
I am certainly mindful that the problems regarding U.S. Air and American are not directly involved with these types of adverse “unilateral declarations” and the USPS is to be commended in demanding appropriate air mail service from these air carriers. However, the problem caused by no air mail service from U.S. Airways and American Airlines are exacerbated when Delta, and to a limited degree United, fail to comply with the law that is seemingly not being enforced by the USPS.
The Postal Service is setting a dangerous precedent if it allows any air carrier to unilaterally make policy changes contrary to existing law. The decision by airlines to limit or eliminate air transportation for live chicks could devastate, if not destroy the hatchery industry.
The Constitution and the statutes enacted by the Congress are designed to insure that postal patrons receive “prompt, reliable and efficient” postal service “to all communities”. I do not believe this is the current case as it relates to the postal patrons within the poultry and game bird industry throughout the country.
I look forward to your response.
Sincerely,
Chuck Grassley United States Senator

Senator Grassley Press Release

Tuesday, April 5, 2005
Senator Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, held a press conference this morning acknowledging his concern that the USPS is not enforcing the law which he introduced in 2002. As he stated, “This law does not allow air carriers to discriminate against live chicks. If the carrier provides shipment for any live animals, it must provide the service for day-old chicks”.
A formal letter was sent by the Senator to Mr. Paul Vogel, Vice President Network Operations of the USPS discussing this and other similar matters. An update will be presented here as soon as more details are known.