OMAHA (DTN) -- U.S. Senator Deb Fischer, R-Neb., praised the Senate's passage of her amendment that would extend the electronic logging device (ELD) waiver for livestock haulers by one year, while she continues working to make the hours-of-service (HOS) requirements more flexible.
Senator Fischer, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee and the Senate Commerce Committee, has continued to fight for HOS relief and issued the following statement in a press release, "Today the Senate passed my amendment to delay electronic logging device requirements for livestock haulers for one year. With this extension, we will have more time to bring commonsense to these rules and provide additional flexibility."
Senator Fischer worked closely with Senate Commerce Committee leadership, Chairman John Thune and Ranking Member Bill Nelson, to include her ELD amendment in the Minibus Appropriations bill that passed the Senate.
This new extension would replace the current deadline date of Sept. 30, 2018, for livestock and insect haulers. As for non-livestock agriculture haulers, the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) waiver for agriculture truckers expired June 18.
Steve Hilker, transportation committee chairman for the United States Cattleman's Association (USCA), thanked Fischer for offering her amendment and her persistence on the issue for both ELD and hours of service rules for livestock haulers. "Current HOS rules were not written with the needs of livestock haulers in mind, and therefore, offer very little flexibility when it comes to hauling live animals," Hilker said.
"This one-year delay is needed because we still have not received the flexibility we have asked for from the FMCSA. We have the solution already drafted and introduced in Congress," Hilker added.
Remember, the ELD and HOS actually intertwine, and thus are mentioned together when an ELD exemption is requested. Once the driving time expires when HOS are reached, the ELD doesn't shut the truck down, but it alerts the driver that they are violating the rule if they continue to drive. If they are found in violation, the truck and driver could face being taken out of service. The out-of-service criteria (OOSC) associated with the ELD mandate went in to effect on April 1, 2018, for anyone not exempt from compliance.
Under the current HOS rules, livestock haulers are allocated 11 hours of drive time and 14 hours of on-duty time. The concern of the livestock industry has always been that if the time runs out while drivers have a load in transit, it could be detrimental to the safety of the livestock and/or live insects.
Overdrive, the number one business publication for owner-operators, reported Wednesday evening that the measure still has hurdles to clear before becoming final, including passage in the House and a likely conference committee between lawmakers from the House and the Senate. "The bill must then be signed by President Trump, who has threatened to veto appropriations bills," according to Overdrive.
Mary Kennedy can be reached at Mary.Kennedy@dtn.com
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