Jan. 1 – FedEx Reopens Jan. 2
Jan. 15 – Not observed by FedEx
Feb. 19 – Not observed by FedEx
May 28 – FedEx Reopens May 29
July 4 – FedEx Reopens July 5th. That July 4th is on a Wednesday this year, any animal that is tendered to the Post Office as Priority on Monday, July 2nd will not be delivered until July 5th. Animals tendered on Monday as Express, should be delivered on Tuesday July 3rd.
Sept. 3 – FedEx Reopens Sept. 4
Oct. 8 – Not observed by FedEx
Nov. 12 – Not observed by FedEx
Nov. 22 – FedEx Reopens Nov. 23
Dec. 25 – FedEx Reopens Dec. 26

Bonafilia Resigns From Post Office

I received the following email from John Bonafilia, Manager, Commercial Air Operations, U.S. Post Office.
On Monday, November 6th, I announced my intention to resign from the Postal Service after 31 years. My resignation is effective November 25th. Greg Garcia will assume the duties of Manager, Commercial Air Operations (Acting). Joel Rosen will continue to be your point of contact for all lives issues.
I believe I’m leaving the lives environment in better shape than when I assumed this position 4 years ago. I hope you all agree. It was frustrating, and at times discouraging trying to put together a network that would support you and your customers needs. With the addition of FedEx & UPS, the commercial carriers, as well as Northwest Airlines, I believe we have ample lift to ensure a successful mailing season next year. But as you are well aware, even with all this lift we may still have holes. Your constant communication proved invaluable – please continue to communicate with Joel as often as necessary.
Thanks again for the patience you displayed in the past.
John C. Bonafilia
Manager, Commercial Air Operations
Washington, DC 20260-7137

Mr. Bonafilia was of great service to our industry in the trying times of the last few years. He was instrumental in getting Northwest Airlines back on line, allowing chicken to “fly” again after 911, setting up Kittyhawk to cover gaps left by other airlines, and negotiating “lives” on Federal express, to name a few. On behalf of all of the Bird Shippers I would like to say thank-you to Mr. Bonafilia for all of his help.
Bud Wood, Chair

Acceptance of Live Shipments by USPS

To follow is a letter from Paul Vogel, Network Operations Manager for USPS, concerning acceptance of live shipments. Below his letter is the response from Bird Shippers of America to the issues raised in Mr. Vogel’s letter.

PO BOX 458
March 20, 2006
Paul E. Vogel, Vice President
Network Operations Management
United States Postal Service
476 L’Enfant Plaza, SW
Room 7011
Washington, DC 20260-6251
Dear Paul:
The Bird Shippers of America appreciate the efforts the USPS in addressing the problems bird shippers have been experiencing in the recent past. Therefore, we appreciated receiving a copy of the March 6, 2006 communication to Vice Presidents, Area Operations Manager, and Capital Metro Operations of the United States Postal Service (USPS) on the Acceptance of Lives.
Unfortunately, we have some major concerns with the substance of the letter in three areas.
Firstly, the suggested procedure permitting the District Managers to establish local procedures and acceptance-point guidelines to be followed by the District Expedited Services Office (ESO) within each District will, we believe, unavoidably create a variety of different policies and procedures which cannot help but result in inconsistency and, therefore, uncertainty for the shippers and customers. We believe a uniform policy for the entire country is warranted and would result in a far more efficient system.
Secondly, as far as contacting the ESO when there is to be a mailing, many times the ordering process does not permit timely notice. For example, one of our members recently had 800 orders in one week 300 of which were booked between Monday and Wednesday. Timely notification cannot always be done.
The third area of concern is the four (4) hour limitation on surface transportation. We have shippers in southern California who will not be able to ship to northern California, Washington or Oregon. One shipper in the southwest cannot even reach postal distribution centers in Albuquerque or Dallas in four (4) hours. Another shipper in Texas cannot reach customers in Oklahoma, Louisiana, south and north Texas, Tennessee, lower Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and the panhandle of Florida by air and has to rely on surface transportation that results in trips that are longer that a four (4) hours.
Immediately after the 9/11tragedy, bird shippers had to use all surface transportation for deliveries throughout the country in trips exceeding four (4) ours and had no problems. In sum, if this limitation is imposed, it will be economically devastating to many, many bird shippers throughout the country. We feel that the limitation is unrealistic and arbitrary; especially when a policy of no time limitation has been successful for many years.
It is interesting that one of the USPS Area Managers encouraged one of the bird shippers to take more bird shipments by surface transportation resulting in trips that were far longer than four (4) hours. The suggestion was followed with no resulting problems
We sincerely hope you will consider our concerns and would be most willing to discuss these matters with you or your staff. If we can answer any questions regarding the above comments, we trust you will contact us. Again, the industry appreciates your efforts on our behalf.
Murray McMurray


In a letter dated November 21, 2005, Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO of Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), wrote Postmaster General John E. Potter citing “long-standing concerns” of the practice of the air mail of birds because of the “sever humane implications for millions of birds mailed across the county every year.” Pacelle indicated shipping of day-old chicks currently “warranted attention on the possibility of a worldwide pandemic related to avian influenza” caused HSUS to bring the issue to the attention of the Untied States Postal Service (USPS).
Citing the discretionary aspect of legislation authored by Senator Charles Grassley R-IA), Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and passed by the Congress that mandates air carriers to accept live animals as mail if the carrier “commonly and regularly” carry animals as cargo, Pacelle urged the USPS to immediately rescind its current policy of requiring airlines to accept live day-old chicks for shipment. 39 USC S5402(e)(2)(A).
At the urging of Senator Grassley, on August 26, 2005, Paul Vogel, Vice President for Network Operations Management of the USPS wrote Federal Express demanding it carry birds under its mail contract since FedEx does, in fact, carry animals as cargo and is, therefore, covered by the statute. FedEx replied on September 30, 2005 that since it “commonly and regularly” refused to carry certain animals, it is exempt from coverage by the statute. This issue has yet to be resolved but in the HSUS letter, Pacelle also urged the USPS to continue to permit FedEx not to carry birds under its mail contract.
Pacelle stated that bird breeder companies are catering to “backyard poultry” customers that has resulted in “HSUS and other animal protection organizations regularly [receiving] complaints about birds dying after they were sent by U.S. Mail.”
Pacelle further claims that an official of the USPS was told by the Bird Shippers of America (BSA) that “last year more birds arrived at their final destination (sic) dead than alive.”
Firstly, no one representing BSA ever said that statement as it is not a fact. Secondly, the official at the USPS denies he ever made that statement to HSUS or anyone else.
In another factual misrepresentation, Pacelle claimed the Northwest Airlines (NW) “decided to no longer accept baby birds on commercial flights after 300 chicks died from exposure to rain on a routine lay-over.” However, NW has told the BSA that the reason it declined to carry ANY air mail on domestic flights is that its share of the total air mail market went from 12% to 2% after the USPS went from negotiated contracts to bid contracts. More significantly, however, NW does, in fact, carry day-old chicks by airmail out of Minneapolis-St. Paul and Detroit and continues to carry poultry as cargo. And finally, the USPS and NW have been in discussions relative to NW again carrying lives by mail throughout its system.
In another inaccuracy that HSUS used in opposing the successful effort to obtain the legislation mandating air lines to carry lives as mail, it Firstly, HSUS ignores the science acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other veterinarians that since chicks are hatched in 99F and brooded in 95F. Consequently, shipping them a day after birth in 95F is not inhumane. Secondly, day-old chicks feed on the unabsorbed yolk for at least 72 hours after being hatched. Thus, the food and water issue is not an issue for day-old chicks.
The thrust of the letter is clearly to raise the issue of a H5N1 strain of avian influenza outbreak. To date, there is not sufficient data to cause any drastic action resulting in a ban of interstate commerce in shipping day-old birds. More significantly, however, there is no scientific evidence any where in the world to indicate that day-old birds have been a carrier of the H5N1 strain of avian influenza.
BSA will be contacting officials of the USPS and Members of the Congress regarding the misinformation and statement raised in the HSUS letter. Further, the members of BSA pledge to work with federal and state health officials to insure that only disease free poultry will be shipped in interstate commerce whether by surface of air transport.

Huricane Katrina Postal Update

Please log on to these web sites for precise information on how Katrina might effect your shipping to the areas of the hurricane in the next week or two:
http://www.ribbs.usps.gov/index.html United States Postal Service Rapid Information Bulletin Board System website
http://www.usps.com/communications/news/serviceupdates.htm Hurricane Katrina Postal Service Update

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.
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.

March 15, 2005 Update

Dear BSA Member:
As of yesterday, the following is the situation on air mail of lives:


Delta Airlines: As earlier reported, Delta unilaterally decided (for economic considerations), that it would no longer take “live” air mail shipments of if such shipment would mean a transfer in the shipment. In other words, you could ship from A to B but not to C if the shipment required a transfer from B.
American Airlines and U.S. Air: Due to sub-performance in their contracts with the USPS, the USPS temporarily suspended the contracts with American and U.S. Air.
United Airlines: It has been learned that United will not take “lives” from Dallas to Denver.
II. THE “Solutions”
In order to “take up the slack” from the above situation, USPS has contracted with Air Tran and Airbourne. Airbourne, in turn, has contracted with Northwest Airlines to carry “lives.”
Northwest currently takes “lives” under a direct contract with USPS from Detroit (DTW) and Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) and, by April 18th, Northwest will be taking “lives” from all it other hubs: Memphis (MEM), Los Angeles (LAX), and New York (JFK). A surcharge will be imposed of $.20 per pound from all hubs except Detroit and Minneapolis-St. Paul where it will continue the current surcharge rates. Northwest is to submit its routing to the USPS by the end of the week.
It turns out that Air Tran does not (will not?) take “lives.” John Bonafilia informs me that Air Tran admits it “misled” the USPS on this issue.
The USPS was unaware of the United refusal to take “lives” from Dallas to Denver but will investigate.
American will be back to carry air mail starting next week for a four (4) week test. Initially, the USPS would not allow them to take “lives” during a test period. I (respectfully) requested that it reconsider this decision due to the critical economic impact the absence of air mail service has had on the industry. The USPS changed its position and American will be required to take “lives” during this test period.
U.S. Air is now “not ready” for the test period but will be by April 2nd.
The unilateral decision by Delta not to take transfers is clearly in conflict with the statute we successfully obtained. This was pointed out to the USPS that responded with the statement that their attorneys were “looking into it.” As a practical matter, Delta started to dismantle its transfer facilities beginning in March. It has to be concluded it did so with either the tacit approval of the USPS or the perceived or certain knowledge that the USPS would do nothing about it. I fear the same may be true of the United situation.
Of course, there is still the FedEx issue that it was covered by the statute but, even so, the USPS contractually allowed it not to carry “lives.’
I met with the staff of Senator Charles Grassley yesterday.
Firstly, apparently, the Senator’s office had out considerable pressure on Northwest to do what it has done by some “trade off” on other agriculture issues.
Secondly, it is agreed that the problems (with the exception of sub-performance by American and U.S. Air) are clearly systemic from USPS’s failure to enforce the provisions of the statute. (i.e., FedEx, Delta and United).
Thirdly, in view of these conclusions, I was requested to draft a letter for Senator Grass signature to the USPS (Vogel) indicating his displeasure with the current state of affairs that are mainly the fault of the USPS in its failure to enforce it authority under the statute (or, in turn, using its discretion to not enforce it per FedEx).
Fourthly, after a letter of explanation from the USPS that will undoubtedly be unacceptable the USPS will be “invited ” to come to the Senator’s office for a “chat.” At that time, the FedEx issue will “be on the table” and if the USPS will not remove the clause from the FedEx contract and require FedEx to carry “lives,” it will be informed that legislation will introduce to insure that it be done.
[FedEx had expressed the notion that if it were required to carry "lives" as air mail, it would not carry any air mail. Initially, the Senator Grassley's office was concerned with that threat viz-a-viz the carrying of medical products. This was of specific concern to the Senator as he is Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee that has jurisdiction over Medicare. The Senator now believes that the threat was, and is, a bluff so he does not have any hesitation in going forward].
Fifthly, in view of the surcharge issue, the Senator’s office will look into some form of establishing parity in the market place for those shippers that have to pay the surcharge. The initial thought was to craft some form of a tax credit scheme. This will be pursued.
I really believe that the USPS is attempting to be responsive to the current problems. Having acknowledged that notion, most, if not all, the problems have, in point of historical fact, been caused by the USPS:
1. by eliminating the USPS owned and operated Eagle Service and replacing it with contract service that will not carry “lives” in the face of the statute and facts that required an air carrier to do so;
2. by compounding the this failure by specifically contracting with the carrier that it does not have to do so;
3. by having bid contracts for the carrying of air mail rather than negotiated contract; and
4. by “permitting” Delta and United to unilaterally decide to alter its policy on how it will carry air mail.
From the very beginning of the problems, it was clear that the USPS believes it is held hostage by the air carriers and has consistently deferred to them. The air carriers have, in turn, evidenced to the industry that they “are in control.” The air lines and the USPS (let alone the animal rights crowd) never thought the statute would pass the Congress. Although the passage of the statute (temporarily) “made believers” of the USPS and the air line industry, it is clear that it is time to legislatively make it abundantly clear to the USPS and the air lines that the air mail service the industry is entitled to under the Constitution and statutory law shall be available. Fortunately, we have an “800 pound Congressional gorilla” to help in obtaining this objective.
Murray McMurray