Truckers feeling pressure from coronavirus slowdown

When the chairman of Tyson Foods warned the nation's 'meat supply chain' is in danger of breaking, we're reminded how much the coronavirus has weakened things we depend on.

Now it is threatening an early 'hero' of the crisis.

Truckers have been a vital piece of the machine to get supplies to people who need them. However, as the slowdown drags on, more and more drivers are finding themselves with less to do.      

Doug Greenwood is a Texas truck driver who checked in from a West Virgina freight yard, where there were too many drivers for the loads that were available. Greewood is one of the lucky ones, with a trailer hooked to his rig, bound for Florida. He says the opportunities, for drivers, is getting slim as demand for freight is getting squeezed and the price to haul it, is plummeting.

"They were paying $2 to $4 a mile," says Greenwood, "Now it's down to a dollar; sometimes $0.70 a mile."

The global slowdown shines a spotlight on how connected trade has become, and how far-reaching supply chains can stretch.

As China and other parts of the world deal with the virus, less material comes into ports, like Houston Those shortages can limit components for all kinds of industries. Along the way, customers, who are facing their own challenges, have less demand for products.        

Experts say the solution lies in having someone willing to buy what's being sold, once the virus is under control. "What we've got to see is: 'What is the consumer going to do here in the U.S. and throughout the world?'," says UH Supply Chain & Technology Center Director Margaret Kidd, "That'll determine the supply-demand balance, moving forward."

Meantime, for Greenwood, and other truck drivers, there's a lot of anxiety trying to stay on the road and make ends meet while the crisis continues.

"I've been at this for 38 years, and I ain't never seen it this bad," he says.