Livestock haulers may get some relief from transportation rules if a bill proposed by a bipartisan group of Senators moves forward in Congress. (Wyatt Bechtel)
Eleven Senators proposed a bipartisan bill that would help alleviate the strain of transportation laws such as the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) and hours of service rules for truckers hauling livestock.
The Transporting Livestock Across America Safely Act was introduced by a bipartisan group led by Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) on May 23.
The bill provides some fixes for the hours of service and the ELD through the following measures:
- Providing that hours of service and ELD requirements are inapplicable until after a driver travels more than 300-air miles from their source. Drive time for hours of service purposes does not start until after 300-air mile threshold.
- Extends the hours of service on-duty time maximum hour requirement from 11 hours to a minimum of 15 hours and a maximum of 18 hours of on-duty time.
- Loading and unloading times are exempt from the hours of service calculation of driving time, so are time spent waiting at facilities such as packing plants.
- Grants flexibility for drivers to rest at any point during their trip without counting against hours of service time.
- Allows drivers to complete their trip – regardless of hours of service requirements – if they come within 150-air miles of their delivery point.
- After the driver completes their delivery and the truck is unloaded, the driver will take a break for a period that is 5 hours less than the maximum on-duty time (10 hours if a 15 hour drive time).
“Our ranchers and haulers are professionals who make the well-being of livestock their top priority and that includes safe transportation,” Sen. Sasse says. “The Department of Transportation’s current regulations endanger livestock during hot summers and cold winters causing significant stress on the animals and concern for the drivers. This bipartisan bill is good for our ranchers, good for our haulers, and good for our livestock.”
Other Senators signing the bill include: Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Doug Jones (D-Ala.).
“The transport of agricultural commodities, particularly livestock, poses unique challenges not faced by other segments of the trucking industry,” says Sen. Ernst. “The Transporting Livestock Across America Safely Act addresses these realities and the shortcomings of the current hours of service regulations by giving truckers the flexibility they need to get cattle, hogs, and other live agricultural commodities to their destination.”
Livestock groups are pleased to see the proposed legislation with the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association (USCA), the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and the National Pork Producer’s Council (NPPC) all backing changes to the hours of service rules.
“We asked, and Congress answered. This is a historic moment for livestock and insect haulers to finally be afforded needed flexibility in the restrictive hours of service rules,” says Steve Hilker, USCA Transportation Committee Chairman and owner of Steve Hilker Trucking in Kansas. “Thank you to everyone who has put in many hours, many miles and many late nights to get this piece of legislation brought forth to the Senate floor. We look forward to working with the Senate – and the House – to get the Transporting Livestock Across America Safely Act across the finish line.”
Hilker and NCBA President Kevin Kester both expressed thanks specifically to Sen. Sasse for helping push forward the legislation.
“The current hours of service rules for livestock haulers present big challenges for our industry and can often jeopardize the health and well-being of livestock,” says Kester, a fifth-generation California rancher. “Given the unique nature of livestock hauling – often very long distances between cow-calf operations and feedlots or processing facilities – and the fact that we’re transporting live animals that must be treated humanely – this legislation is vitally important and I think it strikes a balance coupled with common sense for everybody involved. I hope Congress will pass this bill as quickly as possible so we can have this issue resolved before the ELD mandate for livestock haulers goes into effect on Oct.1.”