Bipartisan legislation was introduced last week that would provide flexible relief from hours-of-service rules for agricultural haulers.
The Responsible & Efficient Agriculture Destination Act would ensure the current hours-of-service exemption that applies to the 150-air-mile radius from the source of an agricultural commodity adds the same radius flexibility to the back end of a trip, or the destination. The bill also clarifies that this exemption would apply in every state year-round.
NCBA was instrumental in getting this bill introduced. According to NCBA President Jennifer Houston, it addresses the unique challenges livestock haulers face that those in other industries do not.
The National Pork Producers Association has come out in support of the Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) proposal to increase flexibility for truckers, including livestock haulers, it wrote in comments submitted this week. The Hours of Service (HOS) of Drivers proposal, issued in August, revised rules around the amount of time truckers can drive their loads and when they are required to rest between drives.
“While not perfect, FMCSA’s proposed rule is part of a series of welcome steps the agency has taken to adjust policies necessary to help address the challenges faced by livestock haulers,” NPPC explained in its comments.
FMCSA’s proposal addresses the challenge of adverse weather by expanding not just the driving time, but also the overall on-duty time for drivers to finish their delivery. The proposed rule also allows truckers to split up their 10-hour mandatory rest period into two periods (one being at least 7 hours long) and creates an option for drivers to take an extended break between 30 minutes and 3 hours, which pauses their on-duty clock. This will allow drivers the option of resting when tired, while providing greater flexibility for completing deliveries and maintaining high animal welfare standards.
In its comments, NPPC urged FMCSA to allow other time splits for livestock haulers and eliminate the distinction between on-duty and driving time, among other suggestions.