BY: Wyatt Bechtel
March 13, 2018 04:15 PM
The Department of Transportation has granted another 90 day waiver to agriculture transporters for implementation of electronic logging devices. ( Wyatt Bechtel )
Agriculture related transportation will be granted another 90 day temporary waiver from the electronic logging device (ELD) rule. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced the temporary exemption timeline would be extended after the original 90 day waiver ends on March 18.
In November, FMCSA announced that a 90 day waiver would be given to agriculture commodity haulers starting on Dec. 18, 2017, when the ELD rules went into effect.
This second extension has been granted so FMCSA can give final guidance on both the agricultural 150 air-mile hours-of-service exemption and personal conveyance.
“We continue to see strong compliance rates across the country that improve weekly, but we are mindful of the unique work our agriculture community does and will use the following 90 days to ensure we publish more helpful guidance that all operators will benefit from,” said FMCSA Administrator Ray Martinez.
The hours of service mandates affiliated with the ELD have been questioned by 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).
Hours of service record-keeping requirements were in place prior to the ELD, but were difficult to enforce and could be adjusted on paper. With an ELD there is no flexibility offered for drivers.
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.
During the lead up to the implementation of the ELD, Alleah Hilker-Heise and her father, Steve Hilker, owner of Steve Hilker Trucking, Inc. in Cimarron, Kan., have shared updates via social media on what has been happening for livestock haulers. In their latest Facebook Live video, Hilker-Heise says the 90 day waiver gives their family business hope that positive changes will be made.
“We’re really excited about this 90 day delay,” Hilker-Heise says. “We understand that it is not a full exemption or a longer-term delay, but 90 days at a time will work for now.”
Hilker-Heise adds there could be additional updates made to the hours of service rule. “We can’t say a whole lot about that now because it is still in the works.”
California rancher and NCBA president Kevin Kester thanked Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao and FMCSA Administrator Ray Martinez for continuing to listen to livestock producers’ concerns.
“This is obviously good news for America’s cattle haulers and producers, and it will provide FMCSA more time to educate our livestock haulers on the ELDs while industry works on solutions to the current hours of service rules that simply do not work for those hauling live animals,” Kester says.
Ohio pork producer and NPPC president Jim Heimerl hopes the additional time will help Congress and FMCSA realize the “unique needs of livestock haulers.”
“Drivers transporting livestock have a moral obligation to care for the animals they’re hauling regardless of any regulation,” Heimerl says.
Following the latest 90 day extension Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue released a statement saying the rule as currently written does not allow for flexibility in the hours of service.
“Current ELD technologies do not recognize the hours-of-service exemptions for agriculture that are in federal law. This is a classic example of a one-size-fits-all federal regulation that ignores common sense to the detriment of sectors like agriculture,” Perdue says.
For more on the ELD rules read the following stories:
•DOT Enforcement Chief Wants to Work with Livestock Industry on ELD
•Ag Commodity Transporters Get 90-day Waiver on ELD Implementation
•Transportation Fiasco Looming for Long Distance Cattle Hauls