There's yet another in this spring’s bumper crop of bills proposed on Capitol Hill to benefit livestock (and insect) haulers by relaxing the electronic logging device rule and also, in some cases, easing the hours of service rules specifically for this class of truckers.
The Modernizing Agricultural Transportation Act, introduced in bipartisan fashion by farm state Sens. John Hoeven (R-ND) and Michael Bennet (D-CO), would reform both the ELD and HOS rules— and for a nice kicker, would further delay enforcement of the ELD on livestock haulers until the actions that would be required under the bill are formally proposed by the Department of Transportation.
According to Sen. Hoeven’s office, the bill would “establish a working group at DOT to identify obstacles to the safe, humane and market-efficient transport of livestock and, within one year of the group’s establishment, develop guidelines for regulatory or legislative action to improve the transportation of these commodities.”
The working group would consist of representatives from the transportation and agriculture industries, as well as the Department of Agriculture, and would be required to consider:
- The impact, incompatibilities and other challenges and concerns of existing HOS rules and ELD rules under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration 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.
Within 120 days of receiving the working group’s report, the transportation secretary would be required to propose regulatory changes to the HOS and ELD regulations, “taking into account the findings and recommendations of the working group.”
“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,” said Hoeven. “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.”
“Our bipartisan legislation will provide Colorado’s farmers and ranchers a seat at the table to help develop sensible rules around the transportation of agricultural goods,” said Sen. Bennet. “It is important that we maintain safe roads for all, while also recognizing the unique flexibility needed for the transportation of Colorado’s agriculture products.
No trucking interest groups are listed as supporting the Modernizing Agricultural Transportation Act. Groups that are supporting the bill include the National Pork Producers Council, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, United States Cattlemen’s Association, Livestock Marketing Association, American Farm Bureau Federation, the American Honey Producers Association, and the Rocky Mountain Farmer’s Union.