The National Grocers Association (NGA) applauds passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act by the U.S. Senate with two provisions that support the independent community grocery industry.
NGA commends senators for including a provision in the act calling for an Apprenticeship Program for Commercial Drivers Under 21 Operating Interstate. This provision establishes an apprenticeship pilot program to allow commercial drivers under the age of 21 to operate over state lines. A measure that NGA has long supported, this provision will help ease the pressure on the supply due to the nationwide trucker shortage, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Grocers have voiced concern with Congress over supply chain issues for years and the pandemic has only brought added pressures to our wholesalers, who have worked diligently to make sure grocers have product to keep their shelves stocked and their communities fed,” said Robert Yeakel, NGA director, government relations. “The apprenticeship pilot program is a helpful first step to relieve the nationwide trucker shortage.”
Additionally, NGA supported a provision in the act establishing a grant program to deploy publicly accessible electric vehicle (EV) charging stations, including in independent grocers’ parking facilities. Grant funds will be provided to state and local agencies and dispersed to entities to install and operate EV stations.
“This provision will allow independent community grocers and many other small merchants to more easily provide public charging stations for their customers,” said Chris Jones, NGA SVP, government relations and counsel. “As EV usage expands in the coming years, grocery retailers will be equipped to offer this valuable service and added convenience to shoppers.”
NGA now urges the House of Representatives to approve the infrastructure package containing these provisions.