Legislation Would Provide Ag Haulers Some Relief - June 25, 2018
Recently introduced bills address some of the unique challenges of transporting agricultural products and livestock. Both the Modernizing Agricultural Transportation Act and the Transporting Livestock Across America Safely Act would provide some fixes for hours of service regulations and the electronic logging device mandate.Farm Bureau and several other agricultural groups’ primary concern with the HOS rules and the ELD requirement is the effect on the transported animals’ well-being. Drivers who have to use ELDs would be limited to current hours of service rules, which restrict a driver to only 14 “on duty” hours, with no more than 11 active driving hours. Once a driver hits those maximum hour allotments, he must stop and rest for 10 consecutive hours, which would be problematic when transporting livestock and other live animals. The Modernizing Agricultural Transportation Act (S. 3051) would require the secretary of transportation to establish a working group to identify obstacles to the “safe, humane, and market-efficient transport of livestock, insects, and other perishable agricultural commodities” and develop guidelines and recommend regulatory or legislative action to improve the transportation of these commodities. The working group would have to consult various stakeholders and consider certain issues, including challenges and concerns caused by the HOS and ELD rules. The group is charged with submitting a report of its findings to the secretary, who would then use the report as a basis for proposing changes to the HOS regulations and the ELD mandate. The measure would also suspend the ELD mandate for commercial motor vehicles hauling livestock, insects or perishable agricultural commodities until the secretary proposes regulatory changes. The Transporting Livestock Across America Safely Act (H.R. 6079, S. 2938) would modify the HOS requirements for the hauling of livestock and fish in a few ways. Under the measure, HOS and ELD requirements would be inapplicable until after a driver travels more than 300 air-miles from the driver’s source. In addition, the HOS on-duty time maximum hour requirement would be extended from 11 hours to a minimum of 15 hours and a maximum of 18 hours of on-duty time. The bill would also exempt loading and unloading times from the HOS calculation of driving time; grant flexibility for drivers to rest at any point during their trip without counting it against HOS time; allow drivers to complete their trip – regardless of hours of service requirements – if they come within 150 air-miles of their delivery point; and require the driver to take a break for a period that is five hours less than the maximum on-duty time, after he completes his delivery and the truck is unloaded.