The Department of Transportation (DOT) has placed a 90-day delay on the implementation of electronic logging devices (ELD) for agriculture commodities.
The announcement was made by DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) at a briefing on Nov. 20. FMCSA still plans to move forward with the ELD rule on Dec. 18, 2017. ELDs are a record keeping device synchronized to a truck engine that logs information digitally. In real-time an ELD records data such as time spent on the road, miles driven, location and engine hours.
A 90-day waiver for agriculture commodities will begin on Dec. 18 in an effort for FMCSA to evaluate issues revolving around the hours of service requirements. The primary concern for agriculture has come from livestock haulers.
Organizations like the United States Cattlemen’s Association (USCA), the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) and the Livestock Marketing Association (LMA), have questioned the hours of service mandates affiliated with the ELD.
“The ELDs regulation poses some serious challenges for livestock haulers and the animals in their care,” says NPPC President Ken Maschhoff, a pork producer from Carlyle, Ill. “This waiver will give the department time to consider our request that truckers transporting hogs, cattle and other livestock be exempt from the ELDs mandate.”
Under the ELD rule, truckers have an hours of service limit of 11 hours of driving in a 24 hour period. Drivers can be on-duty a total of 14 hours consecutively, including the 11 hours of drive time. After 11 hours are reached, drivers must rest and be off-duty for 10 consecutive hours.
The hours of service stipulations make it difficult to transport livestock long distances without either stopping to unload midway at holding facilities or keeping livestock in the trailer for the 10 hour wait time. Another option to stay within regulations would be using teams of drivers, but there has been a shortage of drivers, especially for livestock transportation.
FMCSA plans to have a comment period in the coming weeks to seek guidance on a potential hours of service exemption for agriculture commodity transport. The government organization will also help clarify the 150 air mile exemption and the related hours of service.
“We look forward to continuing this dialogue with the agency to provide relief for transporters from the restrictive hours of service rules, a regulatory burden that will have a severe impact on the ability of livestock haulers to continue to do business in a way that is both economically feasible and ensures the utmost consideration for animal welfare and safety,” Lia Biondo, director of policy and outreach at USCA.
FMCSA says in a statement, “Public participation in this guidance is essential to the process, so we ask for continued engagement from all impacted stakeholder groups across industries.”