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

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