Hoeven: FMCSA Seeking to Provide Additional Flexibility Under Hours of Service Agriculture Exemption

Senator Working to Reform HOS & ELD Rules, Urges Impacted Agriculture Producers, Commercial Drivers to Submit Input

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven, a member of the Senate Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Committee, today issued the following statement after the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced that it is seeking to provide additional flexibility under the 150 air-mile agriculture exemption to its Hours of Service (HOS) regulations. The FMCSA has been working to improve the exemption at Hoeven’s request to help address the unique challenges associated with transporting live animals and agriculture commodities, while ensuring roadway safety. 

The agency has now requested public comment on revising the definitions of livestock and agricultural commodities to ensure the exemption is consistently applied and has enough flexibility that it can be utilized by eligible commercial drivers and farmers.

“The current HOS regulations put livestock and agriculture haulers in an unworkable situation,” Hoeven said. “We are continuing our efforts to provide a permanent solution to both the HOS and ELD rules, and I appreciate Transportation Secretary Chao and the FMCSA for working with us on this priority. I encourage North Dakota’s agriculture and transportation groups to give feedback to the department on how to best revise this exemption and ensure it delivers the flexibility our farmers and commercial drivers need.”

Reforming ELD and HOS Regulations

Hoeven continues his efforts to address unworkable mandates under the HOS and electronic logging device (ELD) regulations and ensure the safe, humane and market-efficient transportation of agricultural commodities, including livestock. To this end, the senator is advancing his Modernizing Agricultural Transportation Act, bipartisan legislation he reintroduced earlier this year with Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colo.). 

The Hoeven-Bennet bill would establish a working group at the DOT comprised of representatives from the transportation and agriculture industries, transportation safety representatives and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to develop guidelines on reforming the ELD and HOS rules. Within 120 days of receiving the working group’s report, the Transportation Secretary must propose regulatory changes to the HOS and ELD regulations, taking into account the group’s findings and recommendations. The legislation would also delay enforcement of the ELD rule until the required reforms are formally proposed by the Transportation Secretary.

The bill follows Hoeven’s successful efforts to secure delays of the ELD rule in Fiscal Years (FY) 2019 and 2018. Further, Hoeven worked to provide flexibility under the HOS regulations, including within the 150 air-mile agriculture exemption and the reforms proposed by the FMCSA for all commercial drivers.