NCBA Secures Introduction of Bipartisan HAULS Act
Yesterday, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) endorsed the Haulers of Agriculture and Livestock Safety (HAULS) Act of 2021. Introduced by Sen. Fischer (R-NE), Sen. Tester (D-MT), Sen. Wicker (R-MS), and Sen. Smith (D-MN), the bipartisan bill would deliver much-needed flexibility for livestock haulers.
“One year after COVID-19 began to disrupt daily life across the country, U.S. cattle producers continue to prove each day that they are committed to keeping grocery stores stocked with beef. Livestock haulers are a critical component of the beef supply chain and flexibility in livestock hauling regulations remains vital,” said NCBA President Jerry Bohn. “NCBA strongly supports this bipartisan effort to provide livestock haulers with the flexibility they need to maintain the highest level of safety on the roads, transport livestock humanely, and ensure beef remains available to consumers.”
Current hours-of-service (HOS) rules allow for 11 hours of drive time, 14 hours of on-duty time, and then require 10 consecutive hours of rest. When transporting livestock, there is a real need for further flexibility beyond the current hours-of-service. Unlike drivers moving consumer goods, livestock haulers cannot simply idle or unload their trucks when drive time hours run out without jeopardizing animal health and welfare.
“NCBA has long advocated against one-size-fits-all regulations for the live haul sector, and the COVID-19 pandemic further highlighted the need for flexibility when it comes to livestock hauling. The HAULS Act represents the best long-term solution — a permanent change to existing hours-of-service regulations that preserves animal welfare as well as safety on our roads, while also making sure producers can keep our grocery stores stocked with beef,” said NCBA executive director of government affairs Allison Rivera. “We thank Senator Fischer, Senator Tester, Senator Wicker, and Senator Smith for their work on this important legislation. NCBA will continue working on behalf of producers and haulers to provide flexibility within the current hours-of-service.”
This legislation is the latest of many steps NCBA has taken to win greater flexibility for livestock haulers and producers. Since the pandemic began, NCBA has successfully fought every month for a renewed emergency declaration which provides an exemption from hours-of-service for livestock haulers, while also working with Congress to maintain the ELD delay for livestock haulers until Sept. 30, 2021.
The HAULS Act would add a 150 air-mile radius exemption under HOS regulations to the backend of hauls for those transporting livestock or agricultural commodities. This legislation also eliminates the seasonal harvest requirements for the agriculture HOS exemption (making the exemption available year-round in all states), and updates and clarifies the definition of an agricultural commodity.
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Outtagrass Cattle Co. cartoon by Jan Swan Wood for the June 19, 2021, edition of Tri-State Livestock News