Electronic Logging Devices
Current Hours of Service rules do not provide the needed flexibility that live animal haulers need to safely haul livestock across the country. Instead, the current rules – coupled with the implementation of electronic logging devices and lack of flexibilities – jeopardize the health and well-being of livestock. The restrictions might work when hauling typical consumer goods, like toilet paper. But for live animals, repeated loading/unloading and extended periods of time sitting in the back of a sedentary trailer can have serious consequences on the health and safety of the animals being hauled.
Thanks to Congressional action that NCBA helped secure, livestock haulers are operating under a delay in enforcement of ELDs/Hours of Service until further notice. Prior to the beginning of 2019 and the partial government shutdown, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) posted the following on their website: “Transporters of livestock and insects are not required to have an ELD. The statutory exemption will remain in place until further notice. Drivers do not need to carry any documentation regarding this exemption.” The FMCSA aimed to clarify that livestock haulers are ELD exempt until further notice and made clear to enforcement officials that these haulers do not need to carry any documentation to show this exemption while it is still in place. However, this exemption is not permanent. Until the Department of Transportation, the FMSCA and Congress decide the next steps regarding the delay, it will remain in place for livestock haulers without the need for documentation.
Recent Legislative Action
On the Senate side, Senators John Hoeven (R-ND) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) introduced the Modernizing Agricultural Transportation Act. The legislation requires the Secretary of the Department of Transportation to convene a working group that will come up with recommendations on Hours of Service reform, and delays enforcement of ELDs until that process is complete.
On the House side, Congressman Ted Yoho (R-FL) of Florida and 45 bipartisan original cosponsors introduced the House version of the Transporting Livestock Across America Safely Act. If the name sounds familiar, that’s because it is: Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) already introduced the Senate version of the legislation. The only difference between the Senate bill and the House bill is that the House version includes truckers hauling live fish as well.
Introduction of legislation is an important first step, but more work remains. To provide meaningful relief for livestock haulers, legislation will need to advance through the relevant committee and pass both the Senate and the House (plus get the final signature from the President). OCA and NCBA will be working closely with our affiliates and allies to secure the needed changes.