FMCSA Grants HOS Exemption for Fertilizer

March 22, 2010

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration granted a temporary waiver from the hours of service rules for transport of anhydrous ammonia during the planting season.

The 90-day waiver applies to transport from any distribution point to a local farm retailer or the ultimate consumer, and from a local farm retailer to the consumer, as long as the haul is within 100 air miles of the retail or wholesale distribution point.

This is a departure from past practice, in which the agency limited the waiver to transport between the local farm retailer and the ultimate consumer, within the 100 air-mile radius.

Now, prompted by Congress, the agency has determined that the past practice does not reflect today's market conditions. Like farms, local retailers have limited storage capacity and must constantly replenish their stock during planting season. "They are part of the 'just in time' distribution system that extends from a wholesaler to the ultimate consumer," the agency said.

The action was applauded by Russell Laird, executive director of the American Trucking Associations Agricultural and Food Transporters Conference.

"We're glad to see that FMCSA was able to listen and understand how the agriculture industry works and understand that the segment of transportation we're talking about, from the source of anhydrous ammonia going to that local farm supply dealer, is a critical link in the supply chain," Laird said.

The conference was one of a number of agricultural groups that had pressed Congress for help in getting the waiver. In a statement the conference expressed gratitude to Reps. Sam Graves and Blaine Luetkemeyer, both Republicans from Missouri, among other Representatives.

The waiver applies only to anhydrous ammonia and to carriers with a "satisfactory" safety rating or that are "unrated."

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