Agricultural haulers were given a 90-day reprieve from a federal mandate requiring electronic logging devices in semitrucks.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced a 90-day waiver for agricultural haulers starting Dec. 18, 2017. That was when a new rule requiring electronic logging devices (ELDs) took effect for the rest of the trucking industry. The exemption for agriculture would run through March 18, 2018.
ELDs connect to a semitruck engine and synchronize to log driving times. The devices are expected to make hours-of-service recordkeeping more accurate.
The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) and other industry groups asked for the waiver, as well as an exemption from the overall regulation. NPPC states the regulation, combined with the Department of Transportation’s hours-of-service rule, is incompatible with hauling livestock. Those regulations limit truckers to 11 hours of daily driving after 10 consecutive hours off duty. That simply doesn’t work when hauling livestock long distances.
“The ELDs regulation poses some serious challenges for livestock haulers and the animals in their care,” says NPPC president Ken Maschhoff, a pork producer from Carlyle, Illinois.
“This waiver,” he explains, “will give the department time to consider our request that truckers transporting hogs, cattle and other livestock be exempt from the ELDs mandate.”
Maschhoff adds, “Drivers transporting livestock have a moral obligation to care for the animals they’re hauling.”
The FMCSA announced the agricultural waiver and detailed formal guidance and a public comment period. The goal is to clarify the existing 150 air miles, hours-of-service exemption for the agricultural industry.
“FMCSA has listened to important feedback from many stakeholder groups, including agriculture, and will continue to take steps to ease the transition to the full implementation of the ELD rule,” says FMCSA deputy administrator Cathy Gautreaux.
Craig Uden, president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, says the 90-day waiver is good news for cattle producers and a sign the Trump administration is listening to their concerns.
“We’ve maintained for a long time that FMCSA 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,” Uden says.
Steve Hilker, chairman of the transportation committee for the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association (USCA), says he and other members of the association sat down with federal officials earlier this year to talk about livestock hauling and the issues related to ELDs.
Hilker says the USCA is confident the Trump administration “will find that livestock haulers need additional flexibility in the mandate, specifically in the restrictive hours-of-service rules. USCA will continue to be an active participant in these discussions and asks its members to do the same by submitting comments and keeping pressure on their elected officials to support the industry in securing these needed changes.”
The FMCSA says other truckers will have a four-month time frame to comply with the new ELD rule. Truckers stopped from Dec. 18, 2017, through April 1, 2018, without an ELD will be ticketed. But, they will be allowed to continue driving as long as they are in compliance with the hours-of-service rule. Normal enforcement of the regulation will begin after this.
To address any confusion on the roadway, the USCA encourages producers to print out the letter released by the FMCSA to keep in the event they are stopped while hauling livestock.
For More Information:
View the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration letter at goo.gl/2pfV77.
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