A California regulation effective Jan. 1 could cost produce shippers and receivers $1,000 or more per violation if refrigeration equipment on the trucks they hire is not in compliance — even if the trucks don’t stop in California.
The rule from the California Air Resources Board (CARB) covers truck and rail owners and operators, and any “hiring entity” that uses their services.
Rodney Hill, an air pollution specialist from CARB who helped develop the rule, discussed its implications for produce during a Web seminar sponsored by Western Growers, Irvine, Calif., the California Grape and Tree Fruit League, Fresno, and C.H. Robinson Worldwide Inc., Eden Prairie, Minn.
The rule applies to grower-shippers, freight brokers, freight forwarders and receivers. Depending on circumstances, fines could be as much as $10,000 per violation, per day, under California’s Health and Safety Code, Hill said.
Hill gave an example of a truck being loaded in Arizona and traveling through California on its way to a delivery point in Oregon. Even though no deliveries are made in California, the rule applies because the truck is operating within the state. The rule applies regardless where trucks are licensed.
Compliance for hiring entities shouldn’t be too difficult, though, according to Hill and others in the Web seminar.
Matt McInerney, Western Growers executive vice president, said due diligence and documentation are the keys to keeping produce companies out of trouble. Hill agreed with that assessment.
“Begin changing your contracts now so you will be ready Jan. 1,” McInerney said.
“For those of you who have pre-printed pads of bills of lading, I know you want to use up what you have. But you should get new ones printed, or get a stamp made with the right language so you can add it to the forms you have on hand.”
Hill said hiring entities and loading dock personnel will not be expected to inspect refrigeration equipment to see if it is compliant.
However, if the equipment is not compliant and the hiring company’s contracts and other documents don’t have language showing it required the carrier to use compliant equipment, citations and fines will be issued, Hill said.
Western Growers has developed sample documents for produce companies. The compliance statement must have its own signature line and should read: “Carrier or its agent certifies that the TRU equipment furnished for loading this shipment is in compliance with California regulations.”
Shannon Leigh, transportation manager for C.H. Robinson, said the company changed contracts and other documents to include the language effective Oct. 28.
“The goal is to help shippers avoid fines,” Leigh said, adding that C.H. Robinson has been working with CARB for years to make sure its equipment and clients are compliant. “Our intention is to ensure proper due diligence to minimize the risk for our grower-shippers”