WASHINGTON – The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Monday said it is seeking public comment on revising agricultural commodity or livestock definitions in Hours of Service regulations.
The agency said it worked closely with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on this effort to provide clarity for the nation’s farmers and commercial drivers.
The FMCSA has received several requests recently from agricultural and livestock haulers seeking exemption from certain aspects of the HOS rule.
“The agriculture industry is vital to our nation and we look forward to receiving input that will help clarify these definitions, improve safety and offer additional flexibility to farmers and commercial drivers,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.
“The current regulations impose restrictions upon the agriculture industry that lack flexibility necessary for the unique realities of hauling agriculture commodities,” said U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. “We look forward to continuing to work with Secretary Chao on revising these regulations.”
Currently, during harvesting and planting seasons as determined by each state, drivers transporting agricultural commodities, including livestock, are exempt from the HOS requirements from the source of the commodities to a location within a 150-air-mile radius from the source.
The advanced rule (ANPRM) authored by FMCSA was prompted by indications that the current definition of these terms may not be understood or enforced consistently when determining whether the HOS exemption applies.
“FMCSA has worked closely with the agriculture industry and USDA in crafting this advanced notice. We have heard concerns from the industry, and we are acting,” said FMCSA Administrator Raymond P. Martinez. “We encourage all CMV stakeholders, especially those involved in transporting agricultural commodities and livestock, to provide valuable feedback on how the current definitions impact safety, compliance, and enforcement.”
FMCSA continues to work closely with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to eliminate confusion and align the agencies’ agricultural commodity definitions.
The American agriculture industry contributes more than $1 trillion annually to the nation’s economy.
The FMCSA said in a news release that the Trump administration has been working to strengthen the agriculture industry by streamlining regulations, bolstering farm programs, and renegotiating the outdated North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with the signing of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) to improve access to Canadian and Mexican markets.
Additional information on the ANPRM, including how to submit comments to the Federal Register docket, is available at https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations/hours-service/hours-service-drivers-definition-agricultural-commodity.
In June 2018, FMCSA announced regulatory guidance for transportation of agricultural commodities. Learn more at https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations/regulatory-guidance-concerning-transportation-agricultural-commodities.
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