Livestock haulers will continue to have flexibility when it comes to hours of service (HOS) thanks to another extension. The National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) released the announcement, noting the HOS extension came after "consistent advocacy" by the group to help haulers meet the needs of the livestock industry.
The NCBA said the HOS extension was necessary for the well-being of livestock, but also to continue to keep grocery stores stocked during continued disruptions due to the pandemic. Livestock haulers have been operating under an HOS exemption since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Allison Rivera, NCBA executive director of government affairs, thanked the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for the extension, and noted she saw it as a show of confidence that the industry was prepared to work safely and effectively. NCBA, she added, is working toward a more permanent solution on the issue. This extension will end Nov. 30, 2021.
At this time, HOS allows for 11 hours of drive time (14 hours on duty), with 10 consecutive hours of rest to follow. NCBA noted that unlike drivers moving consumer goods, livestock haulers can't idle or unload when drive time hours run out, without jeopardizing animal health and welfare.
A permanent solution to HOS for agricultural transporters has been introduced but remains out of reach. In March 2021, Nebraska Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb) introduced the Haulers of Agriculture and Livestock Safety (HAULS) Act. She was joined in the introduction by a bipartisan group that included Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Tina Smith (D-Minn.)
At the time, NCBA's Rivera noted the HAULS Act represented the best long-term solution, as it would be a permanent change to HOS regulations. It would preserve animal welfare and safety on the roads, she said. Specifically, the HAULS Act would eliminate a requirement that agriculture and livestock HOS exemptions only applied during designated planting and harvesting seasons; amend and clarify a definition of "agricultural commodities", and authorize a 150 air-mile exemption from HOS requirements on the designation side of a haul for agricultural and livestock haulers.
A House version of the bill was referred to the subcommittee on highways and transit in April 2021.
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