Los Angeles area shippers say they haven’t experienced any major problems securing adequate transportation for their produce this season, but trucking firms were hit with some strict new requirements from the California Air Resources Board early this year.

Now, that board threatens to involve transportation brokers, shippers and drivers in enforcement of air-quality rules.

Regulations took effect Jan. 1 requiring California-based truckers to upgrade or retrofit trailer refrigeration units built before 2003 or to buy new units that meet stricter air-quality standards, said David Lund, vice president of sales and operations for Allen Lund Co., La Canada, Calif.

This, he said, has resulted in increased costs.

Rates to ship produce from California to the Midwest or East Coast are $500 to $1,500 higher this year than last year, he estimated.

Now, CARB is proposing to warn transportation brokers, shippers and drivers the first time they load noncompliant trailers and to issue a $1,000 fine for the second offense, said Kenny Lund, vice president of support operations for Allen Lund Co.

Writing in the company’s newsletter, he said that only California-based brokers would have to comply with these regulations.

“This would automatically give a competitive advantage to a broker based outside of California,” he wrote.

Verne Lusby, president of Industry, Calif.-based FreshPoint Southern California, was philosophical about the new rules.

“The law is the law,” he said.

The company upgraded its fleet of more than 100 trucks before the new rules took effect, he said, and its suppliers also have complied with the regulations.

New rules also require warehouses and packing facilities with more than 20 doors to monitor trucks and determine how long refrigeration units are turned on while they are at their facilities and how long it takes to load the trucks, Kenny Lund said.

“There’s no way to comply with (the regulation) effectively,” he said. “It’s pretty onerous.”

Meanwhile, securing adequate transportation has not been a problem for Commerce-based Consolidated West Distributing Inc., said Joel Young, marketing manager.

The company has used the same truck provider for about five years and pays a fair price for transportation based on fuel costs and competitors’ rates.

“We just ask for a fair deal and good delivery standards,” he said.

And Consolidated West doesn’t try to ding its customers for freight costs.

“We don’t use transportation as a profit center,” Young said. “We use transportation as a tool.”