Extension possible for ELD rule

By Jessica Domel

Livestock and insect haulers may have additional time to comply with the Federal Motor Carrier Administration’s (FMCSA) Electronic Logging Device (ELD) rule.

According to Wiley Deck, director of Government Affairs for FMCSA, the current exemption for livestock haulers expires at the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30, but there is a caveat. The exemption will remain in place if Congress is unable to pass a funding bill and, instead, passes a continuing resolution.

The exemption, which does not exclude livestock and insect haulers from the hours-of-service (HOS) rules, could also continue through passage of a new bill.

Both the U.S. House and Senate have passed appropriations bills calling for an additional year for the agricultural industry and commodity haulers to work with FMCSA on the ELD requirement.

The bills have yet to be conferenced.

As long as the exemption stands, Deck said livestock haulers may still use paper logs.

All truck drivers must still comply with HOS, but those rules could change to make allowances to ensure the health of livestock and quality of transported produce.

In late August, FMCSA announced a proposal to revise HOS regulations for drivers moving farm commodities.

“We are grateful for this first step to consider options for flexibility in hours-of-service rules,” Andrew Walmsley, director of Congressional Relations for the American Farm Bureau Federation, said. “Farm Bureau will continue to work with our partners, industry, FMCSA and Congress to find long-term solutions that address the unique needs of transporting agricultural products, the hauling of live animals in particular.”

FMCSA will accept public comments on the proposal through Sept. 24.

“It is imperative that we seek solutions that account not just for motorist safety, but the health and welfare of animals being transported as well,” Walmsley said.

The Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeks input on four areas under consideration for revision.

The first would expand the current 100 air mile exemption from 12 hours on-duty to 14 hours on-duty.

The second would extend the current 14 hours on-duty limitation by up to two hours if a driver encounters adverse driving conditions.

The third would revise the current mandatory 30-minute break for truck drivers after eight hours of continuous driving.

Livestock haulers are already exempt from this rule.

The fourth area under consideration would reinstate the option for splitting up the required 10-hour off-duty rest break for drivers with a sleeper in their truck.

“The proposals are a positive step towards focusing on needed changes to hours of service, but more specific changes that address the unique realities of the livestock hauling industry are still needed,” Allison Rivera, executive director of Government Affairs for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, said. “We will continue to work with FMCSA to provide flexibility for the livestock hauling industry.”

Farm Bureau will be submitting comments on the proposal.

Comments may be submitted online at regulations.gov under docket FMCSA-2018-0248.

Deck encourages commenters to leave specific, substantive comments with explanations as to why changes are needed.

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