Livestock shippers are asking the Biden administration to issue an emergency waiver of work-rule restrictions for truckers hauling both livestock and meat products to avoid transportation delays in the wake of the cyberattack on global meat supplier JBS.
In a letter sent Wednesday to Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, the United States Cattlemen’s Association (USCA) asked for “emergency regulatory flexibility” from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
“After reviewing reports from our members regarding the impact of the JBS outage, USCA strongly believes this event warrants immediate regulatory action to ensure grocery store shelves stay stocked of fresh meat products,” the letter states. In addition to livestock haulers, USCA represents cow-calf producers and feedlot operators.
The group referenced a statement made by JBS earlier in the week in which the company stated that resolving the cyber incident will take time and may cause delays for customers and suppliers.
“This ‘delay’ will create a major supply chain disruption, impacting both producers of livestock and consumers of meat at a time when the market is still recovering from the shock of the COVID-19 pandemic,” USCA stated.
FMCSA and USCA were not immediately available to comment. FMCSA will typically issue emergency exemptions from parts 390 through 399 of federal motor carrier safety regulations – which include hours-of-service restrictions – if the agency determines that an event has the potential for widespread supply chain disruptions in the trucking sector.
FMCSA recently extended – once again – its initial emergency declaration exemption for haulers of supplies related to the COVID-19 pandemic, which includes haulers of livestock and food products. It was unclear, however, whether disruptions caused by the JBS cyberattack would be covered under this exemption and/or if USCA was seeking relief beyond work-rule restrictions.
In May FMCSA issued a 17-state regional exemption for fuel haulers after the Colonial Pipeline was shut down by hackers. The incident resulted in temporary fuel shortages throughout the eastern region of the country.
Truck drivers specializing in livestock hauling have already been affected by the JBS attack, which has disrupted operations at JBS facilities across the U.S. and Canada. The White House said it was a ransomware attack likely caused by Russian hackers.
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