The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has granted drivers who haul livestock a 90-day waiver from a regulation that could have negative effects on animal well-being -- a move hailed by the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) and the National Cattlemen's Beef Assn. (NCBA).
NPPC requested, on behalf of the U.S. pork industry and other livestock sectors, a waiver from a requirement that certain drivers install electronic logging devices (ELDs) on their trucks. The organization also asked for an exemption from the regulation, citing the incompatibility between transporting livestock and DOT’s Hours of Service rules. Those regulations limit truckers to 11 hours of driving daily after 10 consecutive hours off duty and restrict their on-duty time to 14 consecutive hours, which includes non-driving time.
“The ELDs regulation poses some serious challenges for livestock haulers and the animals in their care,” said NPPC president Ken Maschhoff, a pork producer from Carlyle, Ill. “This waiver will give the department time to consider our request that truckers transporting hogs, cattle and other livestock be exempt from the ELDs mandate. Drivers transporting livestock have a moral obligation to care for the animals they’re hauling.”
Craig Uden, president of NCBA, said, "This is very good news for cattle and beef producers, and it’s a sign that the Administration is listening to the concerns that we have been raising. We’ve maintained for a long time that FMSCA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) is not prepared for this ELD rollout, that there needs to be more outreach from the Department of Transportation to the agricultural community and that there’s currently still major confusion on the agricultural exemption on Hours of Service known as the 150 air-mile rule."
The Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Enhancement Act, enacted as part of the 2012 Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, mandated that ELDs be installed by Dec. 18, 2017, in commercial motor vehicles involved in interstate commerce, when operated by drivers who are required to keep records of duty status. ELDs, which can cost anywhere from $200 to $1,000, monitor engine hours, vehicle movement and speed and record driving time, miles driven and location information.
DOT recently issue an interpretation intended to address shortcomings in its Hours of Service rules, granting truckers hauling livestock within a 150 air-mile radius of the location at which animals were loaded an exemption from the regulations and from any distance logging requirements. The department is expected to publish guidance on the air-mile exemption soon.