The FMCSA has officially issued a 90-day ELD mandate extension for livestock and ag haulers. The waiver was officially released and signed by Deputy Administrator Cathy F. Gautreaux.
“FMCSA grants a limited 90-day waiver from the Federal hours-of-service (HOS) regulations pertaining to electronic logging devices (ELDs) for the transportation of agricultural commodities as defined in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs).” — FMCSA.dot.gov
According to the waiver, livestock and ag haulers have until March 18, 2018, to switch from paper logs to ELDs.
The agency undertook this action in response to a request lodged by the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) on behalf of several groups representing those transporting livestock or other agricultural commodities.
The waiver is now available on the DOT’s website.
The FMCSA also mentioned that the 90-day extension would give the agency more time to consider other ELD exemption requests by truck drivers who work in the agriculture industry.
It’s important to mention that the waiver does not, in any way, change the existing hours-of-service (HOS) rules that agricultural and livestock haulers are subject to.
Drivers Covered by the Waiver
The waiver specifies that the drivers included in the 90-day waiver are those hauling “any agricultural commodity, non-processed food, feed, fiber, or livestock.”
As defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the 1980s, livestock is “…cattle, elk, reindeer, bison, horses, deer, sheep, goats, swine, poultry (including egg-producing poultry), fish used for food and other animals designated … that are part of a foundation herd or offspring.”
The waiver applies to truckers hauling any of the goods mentioned above, regardless of their distance traveled or whether they cross state lines.
Drivers operating under this ELD-mandate extension should have a copy of the waiver with them.
The Hours-of-Service Exemption
The truck drivers operating in the agricultural industry have an existing hours-of-service exemption. According to the HOS exemption, they are not required to maintain records of duty status (RODS) if they drive within a 150 air-mile radius of the source of their livestock or ag products.
The new proposal would expand the exemption to include agricultural haulers operating unladen vehicles within a radius of 150 air-mile from the load’s source and after its delivery.
This means that the exemption would also include agricultural haulers driving an unloaded truck on their way to pick up a load, after they delivered the load, and while the truck is loaded and in transit.
The FMCSA defines the change as applicable to “a driver operating an unladen commercial motor vehicle … either to a source to pick up an agricultural commodity or on a return trip following delivery of an agricultural load.”
The FMCSA is accepting comments for 30 days from the industry’s stakeholders — after its publication date — on whether green elevators and livestock sale barns should be considered as a source of agricultural commodities.
According to the FMCSA, “While these facilities are originating points for many agricultural commodity loads, they are not expressly encompassed within the statutory or regulatory terminology of the exception.”
The agency is also accepting feedback on whether or not agricultural haulers picking up partial loads from several locations should have the 150-mile radius expanded from their final pickup, instead of the origin of their load.
“Previous informal guidance has been that the air-mile radius is based on the first source….and that additional stops to load additional agricultural commodities do not extend the 150-mile radius,” the FMCSA notes.
The FMCSA also clarifies that the 150 air-mile radius exemption only covers drivers from their load’s source up to 150 air-miles away. This is regardless of whether or not their destination is over 150 air-miles from the source of their load.
Once drivers exceed the 150 air-mile mark, they would be required to keep track of their records according to HOS regulations.
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