Livestock haulers claim ELD mandate will disrupt cattle shipping

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Agriculture transporters are expecting to experience turbulence this year when the ELD mandate comes into effect. But no group has more at stake than livestock haulers, they claim.

As FreightWaves has covered earlier, a consortium of 31 ag groups, including the US Cattlemen’s Association, has talked to the government about delaying the ELD mandate for a year. Their main argument is that there is no certification for the devices. However, livestock haulers have an extra impetus behind the delay of the ELD rules.

The hours of service rule that will be implemented alongside the ELD rule limits truckers to 11 hours of driving in a 24 hour period. Drivers are allowed 14 consecutive hours to be on duty, including their driving time. After the 11 hours of driving are reached, drivers cannot move again for 10 consecutive hours.

Livestock haulers believe that when Congress created the rule, they did not take into account trucks that are hauling living, breathing animals. Unlike other agricultural products, cattle are still alive when they are transported.

According to cattle industry experts at Drovers, a study from Canada showed spending more time in a trailer causes additional shrink for cattle. From 10 to 20 hours in a trailer, cattle will lose 6% to 7.5% in body fluid. At 24 to 28 hours, cattle will start to lose tissue, setting their performance back before reaching a final destination.

Therefore, livestock shippers face the decision of leaving the cattle loaded in the trailer and potentially or incurring these losses, or unloading the cattle during their mandated 10 hour break and reloading them before driving again. This of course presents potential for biohazards such as contamination and presents further opportunity for accidents to occur.

This is a big problem when cattle producers ship their cattle to feeding lots, which are concentrated in the great plains region of the country, from far away. And shippers and carriers  will most likely have to pass the losses on to the consumers.

Earlier this year, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that includes a one year ELD mandate delay for livestock haulers, but the ag business consortium is supporting current legislation that will delay the rule for two years. That bill, H.R.3282 - ELD Extension Act of 2017, was introduced by Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas) , and is currently in committee.

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