Hours of service exemption extended for livestock haulers

By Julie Tomascik

The hours of service exemption for livestock haulers was extended to midnight Nov. 30.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced the extension in late August.

The emergency declaration was first issued in March 2020 in response to the national state of emergency brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The declaration is meant to provide regulatory relief to motor carriers and drivers providing direct assistance in support of relief efforts related to the pandemic.

The extension comes after livestock and agricultural organizations, including the American Farm Bureau Federation and Texas Farm Bureau (TFB), consistently advocated on behalf of producers and haulers.

“Livestock producers and truckers have been working hard to keep product moving throughout the pandemic,” TFB National Legislative Director Laramie Adams said. “The supply chain has suffered, but they have continued to raise livestock and move product. We appreciate FMCSA for the extension of the exemption to provide livestock haulers the flexibilities under the hours of service regulations.”

Other industries such as medical, sanitation and fuel are included in the exemption.

The current hours of service rules allow for 11 hours of drive time and 14 hours of on-duty time. The rules then require 10 consecutive hours of rest.

“Livestock haulers need flexibility to consider and protect the health of the animals they are hauling,” Adams said. “Our food supply chain starts at the farm, which can be many hours away from the next location that livestock will be raised or processed.”

Earlier this year, a bill was introduced in Congress that aims to develop a working group that would examine guidelines to reform existing hours of service requirements for hauling farm goods. The working group would include the U.S. Department of Transportation, U.S. Department of Agriculture and other industry officials in agriculture and transportation.