Hoeven Announces Flexibility in Hours of Service Rule for Those Transporting Livestock

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee and chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee, today announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is providing flexibility, at Hoeven’s request, within DOT’s Hours of Service (HOS) regulations for truckers hauling livestock. Agriculture groups had expressed concern that without this flexibility, DOT’s Hours of Service regulation would negatively affect livestock hauling. 

“Making the DOT’s Hours of Service regulation more flexible through an exemption for livestock haulers is good news for many of our farmers and ranchers who must haul their own livestock to market or elsewhere,” said Hoeven. “Instead of having to restrict their time on the road or rush through loading and unloading, drivers can work at a safe and productive pace and know that they can go where they need to go.”

Agriculture groups were concerned that due to the nature of hauling livestock – which can include long hours during loading and unloading – potential animal safety concerns could arise should a driver not reach his destination within the 11 hours of driving, 14 hour work day allowed under HOS requirements. FMCSA’s flexibility within the agriculture exemption means HOS do not apply to those hauling livestock when their work is conducted within a 150 air mile (or about 172 road mile) radius of the source of the livestock. Should a driver go beyond this radius, the HOS begin to apply and the driver can drive an additional 11 hours and work 14 hours.

“The US Cattlemen’s Association applauds Senator Hoeven and his work with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to incorporate added flexibility for livestock haulers,” said Kenny Graner, a rancher from Mandan and president of the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association. “FMCSA’s interpretation exempting the first 150 miles from HOS is a first step addressing the unique challenges faced by livestock haulers. We look forward to working with Senator Hoeven and FMCSA to clarify and improve the livestock hauling regulations.”

"The 150-mile ag exemption is a positive first step in resolving North Dakota livestock industry concerns about impending HOS trucking regulations,” said Julie Ellingson, executive director of the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association “We appreciate Senator Hoeven's efforts on this issue and look forward to continuing to work with him and agency officials to further refine rules that otherwise will drive up the cost of freight and have negative implications on animal welfare, especially for those producers situated a distance from major processing facilities and feedyards."