AFTC mobilizes avian flu task force

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The Agricultural and Food Transporters Conference of the American Trucking Associations recently established an avian flu task force to help prepare the trucking industry for the possibility of an influenza pandemic. Fletcher R. Hall, AFTC executive director, says the conference established the task force in response to the Bush administration’s announced National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza.

“The task force was mobilized to map out industry scenarios and to keep abreast of federal, state, local, community and business planning initiatives to deal with a potential pandemic,” Hall says. “It will focus on issues as they relate to trucking in general, and the movement of agricultural and food products by truck in particular.”

Serving on the task force are Cliff Hicklin of Allen Family Foods, Seaford, Del.; Tommy Windsor of Townsend’s, Georgetown, Del.; Bob Chituras of Foster Farms, Livingstone, Calif.; Ralph Michelson of Gold ‘N Plump Poultry, Sauk Rapids, Minn.; and Scott Martin of Wenger Feeds, Rheems, Pa.

“A bird flu outbreak by any measure is of highest importance to ag transporters given that over 87 percent of all meat and poultry moves by truck across the United States each day,” Hall says. “President Bush has called for all segments of society to be prepared for the threat of an influenza pandemic, and the task force and its trucking industry counterparts will do all we can to be ready.”

The task force will interface with appropriate agencies and provide information to motor carriers, “especially AFTC members who are commercial transporters of food and agricultural commodities, including poultry,” Hall says. “The task force will address this potential pandemic, or any degree of outbreak, in terms of industry preparedness, incident planning and the development of contingency processes, industry communications and information.”

The Agricultural and Food Transporters Conference is the national trade organization representing the interests of commercial transporters of agricultural commodities, food, forest products and minerals. For ongoing updates in preparing for and reacting to the possible onset of a pandemic, go to the federal government’s pandemic-related website at www.pandemicflu.gov.