In The News
Proposed Congressional Legislation Impacts Livestock Industry
The creation of the Congressionally mandated Electronic Log Device, ELD, has caused unrest for livestock and insect haulers across the United States. ELD’s will eventually replace the paper log books traditionally utilized by the trucking industry to more accurately track, manage, and share records of duty status and Hours of Service.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, FMCSA, an ELD synchronizes with a vehicle engine to automatically record driving time, for easier, more accurate hours of service recording. ELD’s are intended to help create a safer work environment for drivers.
Under the ELD rule, truckers have an hours of service limit of 11 hours of driving in a 24-hour period. Drivers can be on-duty a total of 14 hours consecutively, including the 11 hours of drive time. After 11 hours are reached, drivers must rest and be off -duty for 10 consecutive hours.
These Hours of Service regulations can be detrimental to transport professionals hauling live or perishable agriculture commodities like livestock or bees.
Once driver’s have driven 11 hours they are required to park their truck and trailer or they have to unload livestock. In both situations they would need to wait the required 10 hours before getting back on the road.
Stress caused by transportation can be detrimental to livestock health, and the longer they are on the road the more they are susceptible to disease and loss of performance. Many times livestock and agricultural commodities are transported during times when heat and cold stress are likely to occur.
Both houses of Congress have proposed bi-partisan legislation to improve ELD and Hours-of-Service regulations for agriculture commodity haulers in recent weeks.
On June 12, Senators John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) introduced the Modernizing Agricultural Transportation Act in an effort to reform the ELD and hours of service law. Additionally, the legislation would delay enforcement of the ELD until the reforms required under the bill are formally proposed by the U.S. Secretary of Transportation.
“Improving highway safety is an important goal, but the rules we put in place must recognize the very real challenges faced by those who haul livestock and other perishable commodities,” says Senator Hoeven.
A working group would be established with the Department of Transportation to help identify complications in the current regulations that impede safe, humane and market-efficient transport of livestock. The working group would have a year to develop guidelines for regulatory or legislative action to improve the transportation of livestock. Members of the working group will come from the transportation and agriculture industries, as well as the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Areas the working group will address include:
- The impact, incompatibilities and other challenges and concerns of existing HOS rules and ELD rules under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) on the commercial transport of livestock, insects and agricultural commodities.
- Initiatives and regulatory changes that maintain and protect highway safety and allow for the safe, efficient and productive marketplace transport of livestock, insects and agricultural commodities.
- Other related issues that the Transportation Secretary considers appropriate.
The Transportation Secretary is required to recommend regulatory changes to hours of service and ELD regulations within 120 days of receiving the working group’s report.
“Our legislation would delay enforcement while ensuring that the HOS and ELD rules are reformed with the concerns of all impacted stakeholders taken into account. That means providing a permanent, flexible solution that both strengthens safety and ensures the humane transportation of livestock,” says Senator Hoeven.
“Our bipartisan legislation will provide farmers and ranchers a seat at the table to help develop sensible rules around the transportation of agricultural goods,” says Senator Bennet. “It is important that we maintain safe roads for all, while also recognizing the unique flexibility needed for the transportation of agriculture products.”
The following agriculture organizations have all supported the Modernizing Agricultural Transportation Act:
- National Pork Producers Council (NPPC)
- National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA)
- United States Cattlemen’s Association (USCA)
- Livestock Marketing Association (LMA)
- American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF)
- American Honey Producers Association (AHPA)
- Rocky Mountain Farmer’s Union (RMFU)
The Modernizing Agricultural Transportation Act is the latest in a number of legislative fixes that have been proposed prior to and since the ELD regulations started in Dec. 2017. Currently, livestock haulers are exempt from the ELD until Sept. 30, 2018.
Portions of this article originally appeared in Drovers Magazine, and was written by Wyatt Bechtel. If you have any questions regarding the ELD mandate, please contact me, Clint Laflin, here at the Extension Office at 785-483-3157, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
~Clint Laflin, Livestock Production Agent