• ITVI.USA
    15,698.280
    -9.450
    -0.1%
  • OTRI.USA
    23.410
    -0.080
    -0.3%
  • OTVI.USA
    15,699.510
    -8.400
    -0.1%
  • TLT.USA
    2.800
    0.000
    0%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    3.390
    -0.060
    -1.7%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    2.840
    -0.080
    -2.7%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.510
    -0.070
    -4.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.290
    0.080
    2.5%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    1.980
    -0.060
    -2.9%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    3.900
    0.100
    2.6%
  • WAIT.USA
    124.000
    -3.000
    -2.4%
  • ITVI.USA
    15,698.280
    -9.450
    -0.1%
  • OTRI.USA
    23.410
    -0.080
    -0.3%
  • OTVI.USA
    15,699.510
    -8.400
    -0.1%
  • TLT.USA
    2.800
    0.000
    0%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    3.390
    -0.060
    -1.7%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    2.840
    -0.080
    -2.7%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.510
    -0.070
    -4.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.290
    0.080
    2.5%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    1.980
    -0.060
    -2.9%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    3.900
    0.100
    2.6%
  • WAIT.USA
    124.000
    -3.000
    -2.4%
Driver issuesNewsTrucking Regulation

FMCSA clears up work rules for ag and livestock haulers

Agency clarifies agricultural commodity and livestock definitions in HOS regulations

The Trump administration has issued an interim final rule (IFR) aimed at making it easier for agricultural commodity and livestock drivers to comply with conflicting work-rule regulations.

The rule, which goes into effect 15 days after publication in the Federal Register, was issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), part of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), in consultation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

“Our nation’s farmers and agriculture haulers will benefit from this clarification of the rules and will be able to deliver their products in a safer and more efficient manner,” said FMCSA Deputy Administrator Wiley Deck. “These improved rules will help farmers move commodities and get food to our grocery stores.”

The IFR — which is open to public comment for 30 days — is based on an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking issued last year, in which FMCSA and USDA acknowledged that the definition of “agricultural commodity” is ambiguous and applied inconsistently between the two agencies. That inconsistency sometimes made it confusing and difficult for drivers looking to take advantage of exemptions provided within the FMCSA’s hours-of-service (HOS) regulations for agriculture and livestock haulers.

Current limits on maximum driving and on-duty time do not apply during the harvest and planting seasons, as determined by each state, to drivers transporting agricultural commodities. The HOS exemption applies when the commodity is hauled to a location within a 150 air-mile radius from the source.

For livestock haulers, the exemption applies because certain animals, such as cattle, sheep and swine, are subject to health risks if exposed to prolonged transit times due to the HOS rules. But carriers had argued that the current definition of “livestock” is incomplete and not sufficiently broad to include, for example, aquatic animals other than live fish and crawfish.

“By clarifying the definitions of ‘agricultural commodity,’ ‘non-processed food,’ and ‘livestock,’ the IFR will create a common understanding between FMCSA, motor carriers, drivers, and enforcement officials,” according to the rule. “While this rule merely clarifies an ambiguous definition without changing any substantive requirements, some regulated entities and enforcement officials may change their behavior in response to this rule.”

FMCSA pointed out in the rule that it does not collect information on the number of drivers currently using the agricultural commodity or livestock exemptions and does not know to what extent state enforcement practices vary because of the ambiguity.

It noted, however, that “drivers who use these exemptions as a result of the clarification provided in this interpretative rule may potentially realize cost savings, and those who no longer use an exemption as a result of this clarification may incur costs.”

Related articles:

Click for more FreightWaves articles by John Gallagher.

John Gallagher, Washington Correspondent

Based in Washington, D.C., John specializes in regulation and legislation affecting all sectors of freight transportation. He has covered rail, trucking and maritime issues since 1993 for a variety of publications based in the U.S. and the U.K. John began business reporting in 1993 at Broadcasting & Cable Magazine. He graduated from Florida State University majoring in English and business.

One Comment

  1. There should not be a computer in a truck telling driver’s how to do there job racing against the clock create speeding and unsafe driving just sit in a truck stop and watch how driver’s drive it’s a dangerous situation walking through the truck and if that’s not bad enough watch the highway driving and a computer doesn’t know when a driver’s are sleepy u have to come out here and do this job before you can set the rules and d old school trucking needs to come back to the industry and CB radio should be mandatory and no flip flops allowed while operating a commercial vehicle why isn’t OSHA law forced old school trucking is about boots and safety for everyone using our highways been driving since 1987 it’s people like me that could make this a better industry than what we have right now this job shouldn’t be considered a fast pace job with these 80’000 pounds truck going down the road and missouri is the only state that warns driver’s about giving a truck respect on our highways haven’t seen any other states using there lighted signs interview someone who has been out here 30 plus years of driving in the public that’s my opinion of the trucking industry hope you have a wonderful evening

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