The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) held a meeting to announce that agricultural haulers will receive a 90-day extension to comply with the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate. The rule is set to go into effect Dec. 18, but this extension temporarily exempts agricultural haulers and will allow the agency to analyze a long-term delay and review comments relating a request to delay the rule for livestock haulers.
Missouri Cattlemen's Assn. (MCA) executive vice president Mike Deering said the association's major concern is the hours-of-service mandates associated with the regulation. These mandates restrict truck drivers to 11 hours of driving in a 24-hour period, which must be followed by 10 consecutive hours of rest.
"This is a great start, and we appreciate the waiver, but we certainly hope more clarity about the hours-of-service mandates are presented by FMCSA very quickly. As written, it is fair to say this regulation could put people out of business, increase trucking rates for cattle producers and seriously jeopardize the well-being of livestock being hauled," Deering said. "We call on the department to permanently exempt cattle, hogs and other livestock from this mandate. Livestock haulers are transporting live animals, and their care must be considered."
FMCSA plans to accept comments on a potential hours-of-service exemption for agricultural commodities and will attempt to clarify existing exemptions. National Cattlemen's Beef Assn. president Craig Uden sees promise in the new direction.
"We want to thank Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao for listening to our concerns, and we'll continue to work with her and FMCSA to make sure that our cattle are delivered safely and that our drivers and others on the road are safe as well," Uden said.
The Iowa Cattlemen’s Assn. (ICA) is encouraging producers to share comments with FMCSA on the impacts on the rule.
“It is more important now than ever for the livestock industry to file comments telling FMCSA that the ELD rule will not make hauling livestock more safe and that we cannot be regulated under the same rules as other industries because our cargo is alive,” ICA said in a release.
The ELD mandate would require most truckers to implement the use of ELDs in place of the paper log forms they currently use. “In combination with restrictive hours-of-service requirements, this rule would severely limit the ability of livestock haulers to get cattle to their destination in a timely manner,” ICA said.
The group noted that it has submitted comments on behalf of its members, but it is crucial that as many comments as possible are submitted asking the U.S. Department of Transportation and FMCSA to amend the rule for livestock haulers. Comments are due by Nov. 30.
Below are details on how to comment and ideas on what to include in the comments.
Key things to remember when writing and submitting comments:
- This request is focused on delaying the ELD enforcement date specific to live animal haulers.
- ELDs are no safer than paper log books.
- Live animal haulers have a great track record of safety, which is supported by data.
- Live animal haulers are unique to the commercial motor vehicle industry because they haul living beings.
- Live animal haulers need more time to receive word of the ELDs and to benefit from agency outreach on the topic.
Formal publication of the guidance via the Federal Register is expected within the next two weeks and will include a public comment process.