Opinion: Truckers keep Vermont’s dairy products on the move
When you reach for milk to put in your morning coffee or swing by the grocery store for a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, I hope that you occasionally think of the dairy farmers and cows that provide these products. But how that milk gets to the cooperative and customers is likely something that you don’t often consider.
There is a complex, carefully orchestrated program of milk pick-ups, deliveries, driver scheduling and countless unexpected roadblocks — literal and figurative — that the McDermott team members deal with on a daily basis.
Two years ago, the St. Albans Cooperative Creamery purchased McDermott’s transportation company and at that point, assumed nearly 100 new employees. With this acquisition, we needed to better understand the intricacies of that business, and today we are successful thanks in large part to the team of drivers that move our product to and from all corners of our state and the Northeast.
Some days, like in any line of work, are better than others. For our drivers, contending with icy roads during a Vermont winter or having to travel to the most rural parts of Vermont has come to be a regular part of the job. This important responsibility to our dairy farmers and customers is why we should recognize our drivers’ unfailing commitment to their work.
From Sept. 11-17, National Truck Driver Awareness Week will honor and celebrate America’s 7.3 million trucking industry employees (truck drivers account for about half of this figure). These folks — like our McDermott team — make sure that everything from milk to microchips are moved swiftly around our country and beyond.
According to the American Trucking Associations, in 2015 the trucking industry hauled 10.49 billion tons of freight, or 70.1 percent of total U.S. freight tonnage. Rail was the next busiest mode, moving 13.8 percent of the nation’s freight tonnage.
Technology, just-in-time manufacturing and consumer buying habits all contribute to the enormous volume of goods being transported daily. In our case, it is the need for a perishable product to be moved to the cooperative or a finished product to be transported to a customer.
Cows don’t take a break from producing milk and our farmers certainly don’t take a break from milking them — so therefore, our drivers need to be on the “move” around Vermont and the region all the time.
Next time you reach for Vermont-made yogurt, slice of cheese or glass of milk take a minute and think about the finely tuned logistics involved in our dairy sector. And next time you see a McDermott’s driver or other driver that stops into your yard thank them for being a part of it.
Personally, I’d like to say thank you to the entire McDermott’s team. You are a valued part of the St. Albans Cooperative family.
Leon Berthiaume, CEO
St. Albans Cooperative Creamery Inc.
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