Hoeven Helps Introduce Farm Bill Amendment to Provide Flexibility under Hours of Service Regulations

Amendment Follows Senator’s Legislation to Reform HOS, ELD Rules

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee and member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, today joined a bipartisan group of senators in introducing an amendment to the farm bill that would provide an hours of service (HOS) exemption for certain agriculture transporters, including livestock haulers, ensuring greater flexibility for operators throughout the country.

The amendment would ensure the exemption for operations within a 150 air-mile radius from the source of an agricultural commodity, for which the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) provided regulatory guidance and clarity at Hoeven’s request last month, applies year-round and does not vary from one state to another for certain months of the year. The exemption currently applies to the planting and harvesting period, as determined by each state. The measure would also provide an additional 150 air-mile exemption on the back end of a trip, as it currently exists on the front end.

“The hours of service rules do not reflect the reality of agriculture haulers and put livestock at greater risk, rather than improving their safety,” said Hoeven. “That’s why we clarified the existing 150 air-mile exemption for agriculture transportation while we continue to work on a permanent solution. Our amendment expands this exemption to help ensure that our livestock haulers have the flexibility they need to safely and efficiently conduct their operations.” 

Today’s amendment comes as part of Hoeven’s work to maintain the safe, efficient and humane transportation of livestock and builds on his successful efforts to both secure a delay of the ELD regulations and provide flexibility under the HOS rule for agriculture-related transportation. Further, it follows the introduction of Hoeven’s standalone legislation, the Modernizing Agricultural Transportation Act, which would delay the enforcement of the electronic logging device (ELD) regulation and reform the ELD and HOS rules.

Under Hoeven’s bill, the Department of Transportation would form a working group comprised of representatives from the transportation and agriculture industries, as well as the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The group would, within one year of its establishment, develop guidelines for regulatory or legislative action to improve the transportation of livestock and be required to consider:

  • The impact, incompatibilities and other challenges and concerns of existing HOS rules and ELD rules under FMCSA on the commercial transport of livestock, insects and agricultural commodities.
  • Initiatives and regulatory changes that maintain and protect highway safety and allow for the safe, efficient and productive marketplace transport of livestock, insects and agricultural commodities.
  • Other related issues that the Transportation Secretary considers appropriate.

Within 120 days of receiving the working group’s report, the Transportation Secretary would be required to propose regulatory changes to the HOS and ELD regulations, taking into account the findings and recommendations of the working group. The bill would also delay the enforcement of the ELD rule until the Secretary proposes these regulatory changes.