Livestock hauler exemptions extended 30 days

Hours of Service exemption for livestock and feed haulers included in FMCSA update.

Jacqui Fatka, Policy editor

August 12, 2020

2 Min Read
Livestock hauler exemptions extended 30 days

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued an emergency declaration at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic to exempt livestock haulers from burdensome Hours of Service (HOS) regulations. In an Aug 11 announcement, the agency extended the most recent 30-day extension to now run through Sept. 14, 2020.

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Assn. (NCBA) welcomed the announcement.

NCBA executive director of government affairs Allison Rivera said, "Livestock haulers are crucial to keeping beef moving through the supply chain and on to grocery store shelves. We thank DOT and FMCSA for extending this exemption and giving crucial relief to critical infrastructure. While this is a win for the cattle industry, more still needs to be done. NCBA will continue to work with Congress and the Trump Administration to find a permanent fix for Hour of Service regulations.”

On July 6, 2012, President Barack Obama signed the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Enhancement Act into law, which required DOT to create and enforce an Electronic Logging Device (ELD) rule.  DOT published a final rule regarding the electronic log books that became effective Feb. 16, 2016, stating that all motor carriers and drivers who were required to keep records of duty status (RODS) on paper must install and use an ELD no later than Dec. 18, 2017.

Related:DOT updates trucking Hours of Service rule

The ELD enforcement date and existing HOS regulations pose significant consequences for the livestock industry, NCBA said. Current federal law limits on-duty time to 14 hours, with a maximum drive time of 11 consecutive hours. The driver must then rest for 10 consecutive hours before returning to duty.

“For the great majority of the trips made by our livestock haulers, this is simply not enough drive time to accommodate the realities of hauling live animals across the country. Research also demonstrates that repeated loading and unloading of animals creates stress, harming the livestock as well as endangering the hauler,” NCBA said.

The current exemption allows anyone hauling agricultural commodities to be exempt from Hours of Service rules until they are outside of the 150-air-mile radius (172 road miles) of their pickup point. NCBA hopes to secure the same exemption for the back end of agricultural commodity hauls to provide further flexibility during the unloading period. NCBA asked for co-sponsorship of H.R. 4919, The Responsible Efficient Agriculture Destination Act. This bill was introduced by Reps. Angie Craig (D., Minn.) and Lloyd Smucker (R., Pa.).

Related:Ag groups support bill to codify trucking rule changes

This bill fixes the seasonality issue that about 10 states still face and adds the 150-air-mile exemption for agricultural commodity haulers from the source of a haul to also include the destination.

About the Author(s)

Jacqui Fatka

Policy editor, Farm Futures

Jacqui Fatka grew up on a diversified livestock and grain farm in southwest Iowa and graduated from Iowa State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications, with a minor in agriculture education, in 2003. She’s been writing for agricultural audiences ever since. In college, she interned with Wallaces Farmer and cultivated her love of ag policy during an internship with the Iowa Pork Producers Association, working in Sen. Chuck Grassley’s Capitol Hill press office. In 2003, she started full time for Farm Progress companies’ state and regional publications as the e-content editor, and became Farm Futures’ policy editor in 2004. A few years later, she began covering grain and biofuels markets for the weekly newspaper Feedstuffs. As the current policy editor for Farm Progress, she covers the ongoing developments in ag policy, trade, regulations and court rulings. Fatka also serves as the interim executive secretary-treasurer for the North American Agricultural Journalists. She lives on a small acreage in central Ohio with her husband and three children.

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