FMCSA asks for comments on hours-of-service regs for ag drivers | TheFencePost.com

FMCSA asks for comments on hours-of-service regs for ag drivers

-The Hagstrom Report

The Transportation Department’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration today announced that it is seeking public comment on revising agricultural commodity or livestock definitions in hours-of-service regulations.

The agency noted in a news release that it worked closely with the Agriculture Department “on this effort to provide clarity for the nation’s farmers and commercial drivers.”

Currently, during harvesting and planting seasons as determined by each state, drivers transporting agricultural commodities, including livestock, are exempt from the hours-of-service requirements from the source of the commodities to a location within a 150-air-mile radius from the source.

The advanced rule authored by FMCSA would revise 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.

“FMCSA has worked closely with the agriculture industry and USDA in crafting this advanced notice. We have heard concerns from the industry, and we are acting,” said FMCSA Administrator Raymond Martinez.

“We encourage all CMV (commercial motor vehicle) stakeholders, especially those involved in transporting agricultural commodities and livestock, to provide valuable feedback on how the current definitions impact safety, compliance, and enforcement,” Martinez said.

“The agriculture industry is vital to our nation and we look forward to receiving input that will help clarify these definitions, improve safety, and offer additional flexibility to farmers and commercial drivers,” said Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.

“The current regulations impose restrictions upon the agriculture industry that lack flexibility necessary for the unique realities of hauling agriculture commodities,” said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. “We look forward to continuing to work with Secretary Chao on revising these regulations.”

Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman John Hoeven, R-N.D., who is also a member of the Senate Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Committee, praised the request for comment, but noted that he and Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., have introduced a Modernizing Agricultural Transportation Act.