Ag exemption from ELD praised | TSLN.com

Ag exemption from ELD praised

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) on Tuesday announced an additional 90-day extension of the agriculture exemption from the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate.

Under the exemption, agriculture haulers operating within 150 air miles of the source of their agriculture products or livestock do not have to comply with the U.S. Department of Transportation's hours-of-service regulation, which limits driving hours to only 11 hours after being off duty for more than 10 consecutive hours.

The ELD rule went into effect in December 2017, with the Department of Transportation granting the agriculture industry an initial exemption that was set to expire March 18.

FMCSA Director of the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Joe DeLorenzo and FMCSA Deputy Administrator Cathy Gautreaux also announced that further guidance related to the "personal conveyance" provision and the 150-air miles exemption will be released soon.

“If the agriculture industry had been forced to comply by the March 18 deadline, live agricultural commodities, including plants and animals, would have been at risk of perishing before they reached their destination. The 90-day extension is critical to give DOT additional time to issue guidance on hours-of-service and other ELD exemptions that are troubling for agriculture haulers.Sonny Perdue, ag secretary

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Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said, "The ELD mandate imposes restrictions upon the agriculture industry that lack flexibility necessary for the unique realities of hauling agriculture commodities. If the agriculture industry had been forced to comply by the March 18 deadline, live agricultural commodities, including plants and animals, would have been at risk of perishing before they reached their destination," Perdue said. "The 90-day extension is critical to give DOT additional time to issue guidance on hours-of-service and other ELD exemptions that are troubling for agriculture haulers.

"I applaud [Transportation] Secretary [Elaine] Chao for recognizing these obstacles and giving extra time for compliance while DOT issues guidance," Perdue added. "While public safety is a critical concern for all of trucking, the safety of living agricultural commodities in transport must also be considered."

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., said, "After I requested action from DOT earlier today, and raised this issue with Senate leadership last fall, it's encouraging that the administration has taken additional steps to alleviate the concerns our agriculture transporters have with the new ELD rule. Moving forward, DOT must continue to engage with members of the agriculture community, provide concrete guidance for recreational horse enthusiasts, and present workable guidelines to protect perishable food grown in North Dakota to protect our rural economy."

Many farm groups praised the decision.

U.S. Cattlemen's Association Executive Vice President Kelly Fogarty said, "The 90-day waiver issued by FMCSA for all haulers of agricultural commodities was set to expire by the end of this week, on Sunday, March 18. Though we're pleased with the additional 90-day waiver, this does not alleviate the underlying hours-of-service concerns that the livestock industry has brought forth to FMCSA. We look forward to working with FMCSA, Congress, and other stakeholders groups in the days ahead to continue pushing for a viable solution to the restrictive hours of service rules."

–The Hagstrom Report