Hours of Service Bill 'Game Changer' for Livestock Haulers

5/25/18 Bill To Change ELD Regulations For Livestock Truckers
A new bill proposed by a group of Senators is gaining praise from cattlemen and truckers as a fix for the hours of service and Electronic Logging Device (ELD) rules. ( Wyatt Bechtel )

Cattle producers and truckers are happy to see some regulations related to livestock transportation be amended by a bipartisan bill proposed by eleven Senators.

On May 23, Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) and ten other Senators introduced the Transporting Livestock Across America Safely Act (TLAASA).

The bill fixes problems in the hours of service rules that were reinforced through the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) rule. TLAASA would extend hours of service for truckers hauling livestock, exempt time spent waiting to load or unload from the calculation, and give greater flexibility when resting at any point in the trip.

Steve Hilker, owner of Steve Hilker Trucking Inc., in Cimarron, Kan., says the announcement is “game changer” for livestock haulers.

“It will simplify our world immensely and take a ton of pressure off,” Hilker says.

Hilker spent part of May 24 at the sale barn in Pratt, Kan. and spoke with a number of other truckers who believe it will answer concerns of the current regulations. Prior to the TLAASA announcement many livestock haulers had voiced displeasure about how the enforcement of the hours of service through the ELD would impact their business.

In Hilker’s case, he planned to run 16 trucks without ELDs and focus on hauling locally in a 150 mile radius that was allowed in the rule. Hilker still plans to stick to local hauls, but he’ll at least have the option to do long hauls more easily should the TLAASA make it through Congress and be signed by President Trump.

The animal welfare aspect of the current hours of service is what was often missed in the discussions of ELDs, Hilker adds.

“Now we can do what's best for the animals in transit,” Hilker says. “It is a really, really well done bill.”

Hilker has represented the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association (USCA) on Capitol Hill as the Transportation Committee Chairman and his organization is backing the legislation along with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA).

At the state level the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association (MCA) has made the hours of service and ELD rules a top legislative priority says Mike Deering, Executive Vice President for MCA.

“It really takes into account that we're talking about living, breathing animals. I mean, that's a lot different than hauling inanimate objects,” Deering says of the new TLAASA legislation.

As currently written the hours of service have the possibility to impact business for both livestock haulers and producers because there was the potential for animal welfare and health problems by stopping to unload animals for truckers to rest. Solutions like driving in teams would add costs to hauling animals and the added cost has the potential to drive down the price of livestock hauled long-distance.

“It is our number one priority as far as the Association at the federal level. We want to get this done,” Deering says.

To hear all of Deering’s thoughts on the Transporting Livestock Across America Safely Act listen to the following AgriTalk interview:

The full bill can be found below:

Transporting Livestock Across America Safely Act (PDF)

For more stories on developments in the ELD and hours of service rules read: