A further exemption to the ELD mandate has been granted to livestock haulers in the omnibus spending bill that was approved by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump Friday.
However, the additional exemption is not an agriculture-wide break from the ELD mandate, like the 90-day extension that was granted earlier this month to a broader swath of the agriculture industry. Instead, it is solely for livestock.
Allison Cooke, executive director for government affairs at the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, said the waiver goes through the end of the U.S. government's fiscal year, which is September 30. The legislative sponsor of the exemption was Rep. David Valadao, (R-California).
"This language gives FMCSA more time to educate our haulers on the ELDs themselves, as well as make sure our law enforcement officers are aware of the agriculture exemptions that already exist for our livestock haulers," Cooke said in an email.
The 90-day broader exemption was granted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and runs until mid-June. But this livestock exemption was approved as part of legislation.
Kelly Fogarty, the executive vice president of the U.S. Cattlemen's Association was quoted on the aghoosier.com website as saying the ELD provision in the legislation will give the group the opportunity to "secure needed flexibility for livestock haulers in the restrictive hours-of-service rules."
On its website, the Cattlemen's Association provided a draft letter to be sent by its members regarding what changes it wants HOS rules.
Among what it is seeking is a 150-air mile grace period after a haul is delivered. That would allow a driver to keep going after they've hit the 14/11 restrictions if they are within 150 air miles of their destination. That figure--150 miles--is already significant to the agriculture industry, because the current ELD rule allows the transportation of agricultural products within a 150-mile radius without using an ELD.
The omnibus spending bill was positive for the livestock sector in other ways, as it eased upcoming regulations on the reporting of emissions from livestock farms.