USDA Study Analyzes Year 2000 Food Transportation Readiness (USIS/USIA) : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

02 September 1999

USDA Study Analyzes Year 2000 Food Transportation Readiness

(Study examines export markets, import suppliers) (580)
By Merle D. Kellerhals, Jr.
USIA Staff Writer

Washington -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) says in a new study that most U.S. food export markets and import suppliers have achieved high levels of Year 2000 readiness in international agricultural transportation.

USDA officials wanted to determine what impact, if any, Year 2000 (Y2K) readiness might have on the timely transportation and distribution of food supplies. The report, released September 2, studied nine of the top 10 markets for U.S. agricultural exports and seven of the top eight suppliers of imported food to the United States.

"There is some evidence that processors and distributors in countries that are highly reliant on imports plan to increase inventories due to uncertainty surrounding the date turnover," the report said. "While this may increase market demand in the last quarter of 1999, it will also likely result in decreased demand in the first quarter of 2000 as inventories return to normal levels."

The Year 2000 (Y2K) readiness problem refers to finding and fixing or replacing those computer systems that will not be able to accurately process dates representing the Year 2000 and thereby risk malfunction or failure. On January 1, 2000, unprepared computers may not understand the year "00" as 2000 but as 1900.

Of those interviewed for the study by USDA's Foreign Agriculture Service, most government officials and private sector operators believed that ocean carriers and container port terminal operators have taken appropriate steps to ensure that U.S. agricultural exports will continue without major interruptions after January 1, 2000.

"Major ocean carriers, which handle most perishable cargo, appear to be the most compliant of any of the international food transport sectors," the USDA study said.

Although about half of the market countries reported that motor carriers, such as trucking companies, are less prepared for Y2K disruptions, the study also indicated that motor carriers are less vulnerable to Y2K disruptions because they are less dependent on computer systems.

Food suppliers to the United States likewise have achieved high levels of Y2K readiness in the transportation sector. Since ocean carriers with large, self-contained refrigeration systems ship most perishable food products, those carriers have been aggressive in preparing their systems along with other ship systems, the study said.

The study also pointed out that many ports and other transportation modes rely heavily on public infrastructure, such as electricity, natural gas and water systems, which may likely cause problems in operations if they are not Y2K ready, though contingency plans have been developed to minimize problems.

Food aid recipient countries, such as Indonesia, Bangladesh and Russia, have "very low levels of readiness" for the Y2K problem, the study said. However, "these countries which have given the least attention to potential Y2K problems also have the least dependence on computers to both receive and distribute U.S. food products," the study said.

The top 10 U.S. export markets and major food aid recipients include Japan, $3,000 million; Canada, $1,500 million; Mexico, $1,200 million; South Korea, $650 million; The Netherlands, $610 million; Taiwan, $570 million; Spain, $400 million; Hong Kong, $330 million; Germany, $320 million; Russia, $300 million; and China, $280 million.

The top eight food suppliers to the United States include Canada, $1,700 million; Mexico, $1,400 million; Thailand, $400 million; Chile, $380 million; France, $330 million; Ecuador, $280 million; Italy, $270 million; and Brazil, $270 million.

-- Diane J. Squire (, September 03, 1999


USDA Report doesnt appear to be up yet...


-- Diane J. Squire (, September 03, 1999.

Yeah, right. Trucking industry doesn't rely much on computers. The trucks will move, but move what? What happens when they cannot communicate with their customers and suppliers? What are they going to move? When their accounts freeze up, where will they get the cash, credit, or whatever to fuel those big boys? My brother-in-law was hired to do accounting for a mid-sized firm. Spends most of his time with the computers. But they don't use them much. :[

-- margie mason (, September 03, 1999.

>contingency plans

Yeah, more spinning on that on CSPAN this morning by some character from the World Bank.

There are no serious contingency plans for 90%+ of the economy if there are major problems with electricity, phone, or water/sewer in more than a few areas.

Who are they trying to kid?

-- cgbg jr (, September 03, 1999.

Some trucks are already being slowed at/by pick-up and drop-off points because the record-keeping that used to be done by computer is now being done manually.

-- friend.driving (, September 03, 1999.

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