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Spanberger talks supply chain in Stafford | Local News

As part of U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger supply-chain tour Monday, the 7th District representative stopped by the McLane Company warehouse in Stafford County.

She and McLane officials held a roundtable discussion and Spanberger took a tour of the warehouse. Media wasn’t allowed to take part in the discussion or tour, but Spanberger spoke briefly with The Free Lance–Star following her visit.

She said a key issue that came up during the talk with McLane officials was the industry’s problem with a workforce shortage.

Tractor-trailers continuously entered and exited the warehouse facility off U.S. 17, and one worker on a break, who has been with McLane less than a year, said they stay plenty busy.

Spanberger noted that she met one worker who has been with McLane 49 years, along with others who have worked for the company 30 and 40 years.

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“They seem to do a pretty strong job of retention,” she said.

Spanberger added that keeping truck drivers and hiring new drivers is a challenge, “across the board,” even at McLane.

She noted that the “aging trajectory” of truck drivers has been a challenge.

The representative said she has bills “aimed at bringing more truckers to the industry or retaining truckers,” with a focus on a tax credit for CDL drivers and for those training to become drivers.

There are hurdles in hiring 18- to 21-year-olds, Spanberger added, citing restrictions for that age group as something that could be improved.

McLane has moved younger workers from the warehouse to driving trucks, according to Spanberger.

Company officials told Spanberger this is the time of year they usually handle Halloween candy, but the typical supply hasn’t arrived yet, so the company is adjusting to the slower flow of incoming products.

News reports have noted that supply chain pressure has eased in the past three months, but Spanberger said there are other pressures such as gas prices, which are falling but still high.

She highlighted two bills she has introduced to deal with some specific supply chain problems and industry consolidation.

Spanberger said the meat processing industry has four big companies that dominate the market. During Covid, Midwest processing plants shut down because of employees getting sick. That backed up the supply chain.

Another issue relates to meat and poultry prices, which Spanberger said are “well above” inflation increases.

One of the bills would assign special investigators in the USDA to probe price fixing in the meat processing industry.

The other bill is the American Food Supply Chain Resiliency Act. The act would help small and mid-size farms and producers by creating Regional Resource Centers to offer locally tailored coordination, technical assistance and grants to agribusinesses, according to her office.

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