Deputy Administrator Cathy F. Gautreaux of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has signed the waiver to officially grant a limited 90-day ELD compliance extension to livestock and agricultural haulers.
According to the waiver, “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).”
The haulers covered by the waiver have until March 18, 2018, to start using ELDs.
The action was taken by the FMCSA in response to a request by the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) on behalf of various groups representing livestock haulers and those transporting agricultural commodities.
The waiver has yet to be officially published in the Federal Register even though it is now available on the DoT website.
According to the FMCSA, giving the limited ELD extension will also allow the agency more time to consider the exemptions requested by other haulers in the agriculture industry. The 90-day waiver, however, does not change the current hours-of-service (HOS) rules that livestock and agriculture haulers operate under.
The waiver granted by the FMCSA covers drivers that are hauling “any agricultural commodity, non-processed food, feed, fiber, or livestock.”
“Livestock” is based on the definition instituted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the 1980s as “…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 90-day waiver covers truck drivers hauling the aforementioned loads regardless of the distance they travel or whether they cross state lines.
The haulers operating in the agri industry currently have an hours-of-service exemption that exempts them from maintaining records of duty status. The HOS exemption is valid if they drive within the 150 air-mile radius of the source of the agri and livestock products that they are hauling.
The FMCSA’s new proposal would broaden the exemption to cover agri haulers operating unladen vehicles within the 150 air-mile radius from the load’s source and after its delivery.
That means whether the agri hauler is driving an unloaded vehicle on its way to pick up a load, after they deliver the load, or when the vehicle is loaded and in transit, the exemption would still take effect.
The change is defined by the FMCSA as pertinent 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 agency is accepting comments from the industry’s stakeholders for 30 days after its publication date on whether or not livestock sale barns and grain elevators can be considered as a source of agri 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 [short-haul ag] exception.”
Also, another subject that the FMCSA seeks comments on is whether agri haulers who pick up partial loads at several locations should have their 150 air-mile radius extended from their final pickup, instead of where their load originated.
“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 says.
The agency clarifies that the 150-air-mile radius covers haulers from the origin of their load up to 150 air-miles away. This is regardless of whether or not the destination is over 150 air-miles from their source’s origin.
Once the haulers exceed the 150 air-mile mark, they will then be subject to record-keeping as mandated by the HOS regulations.
Ag haulers have a few more weeks to install electronic logging devices. For the rest of the non-exempt commercial drivers, the ELD mandate is already in full effect.