Bennet, Hoeven introduce Modernizing Agricultural Transportation Act
WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., and Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., last week introduced the Modernizing Agricultural Transportation Act, bipartisan legislation to establish a multi-stakeholder working group to reform U.S. Department of Transportation regulations regarding Hours of Service and Electronic Logging Device rules. The bill would delay enforcement of the ELD rule until the transportation secretary proposes reforms.
“Our bipartisan legislation will provide Colorado’s farmers and ranchers a seat at the table to help develop sensible rules around the transportation of agricultural goods,” said Sen. Bennet. “It is important that we maintain safe roads while also recognizing the unique flexibility needed for the transportation of Colorado’s agriculture products.”
“Improving highway safety is an important goal, but the rules we put in place must recognize the very real challenges faced by those who haul livestock and other perishable commodities,” said Sen. Hoeven. “Our legislation would delay enforcement while ensuring that the HOS and ELD rules are reformed with the concerns of all impacted stakeholders taken into account. That means providing a permanent, flexible solution that both strengthens safety and ensures the humane transportation of livestock.”
Specifically, the Hoeven-Bennet bill would establish a working group at DOT to identify obstacles to the safe, humane and market-efficient transport of livestock and, within one year of the group’s establishment, develop guidelines for regulatory or legislative action to improve the transportation of these commodities. The working group is comprised of representatives from the transportation and agriculture industries, as well as the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and is required to consider:
■ The impact, incompatibilities and other challenges and concerns of existing HOS rules and ELD rules under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration 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 must propose regulatory changes to the HOS and ELD regulations, taking into account the findings and recommendations of the working group.
The Modernizing Agricultural Transportation Act is supported by the National Pork Producers Council, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, United States Cattlemen’s Association, Livestock Marketing Association, American Farm Bureau Federation, the American Honey Producers Association and the Rocky Mountain Farmer’s Union. ❖