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Courtesy photo.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced Nov. 20 that in advance of the Dec. 18 implementation of the congressionally mandated electronic logging device rule, and to further facilitate transition to the rule by motor carriers, the agency will be providing guidance related to enforcement procedures during the ELD transition.

These will include a 90-day temporary waiver from the ELD requirement for transporters of agricultural commodities, formal guidance specifically pertaining to the existing Hours-of-Service exemption for the agricultural industry and guidance on the “personal conveyance” provision.

FMCSA will provide guidance on the existing 150 air miles hours-of-service exemption to provide clarity to enforcement and industry. The guidance is designed to allow the industry to maximize the use of this statutory exemption. The agency will consider comments received before publishing final guidance.

FMCSA and its enforcement partners have stated they are fully prepared for the Dec. 18 implementation. The announcement represents the agency’s desire to implement the ELD rule in a manner that improves safety without impeding commerce.

“FMCSA has listened to important feedback from many stakeholder groups, including agriculture, and will continue to take steps to ease the transition to the full implementation of the ELD rule,” said FMCSA Deputy Administrator Cathy Gautreaux.

Livestock groups hailed the move. Craig Uden, president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, said in statement, “This is very good news for cattle and beef producers, and it’s a sign that the administration is listening to the concerns that we have been raising. We’ve maintained for a long time that FMSCA is not prepared for this ELD rollout, that there needs to be more outreach from the Department of Transportation to the agricultural community, and that there’s currently still major confusion on the agricultural exemption on Hours-of-Service known as the 150 air-mile rule.

“This rule would certainly be helpful to our cattle haulers across the country. We want to thank Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao for listening to our concerns and we’ll continue to work with her and FMCSA to make sure that our cattle are delivered safely, and that our drivers and others on the road are safe as well.”

The United States Cattlemen’s Association issued a statement, saying, “During our trip to Washington, D.C. this year, we sat down with FMCSA personnel to discuss how the implementation of ELDs would present unique challenges for livestock haulers. We’re pleased that they have continued that conversation by issuing this 90-day waiver to fully evaluate how our industry can comply with this regulation.

“We’re confident that upon further examination, the administration will find that livestock haulers need additional flexibility in the mandate, specifically in the restrictive Hours-of-Service rules. USCA will continue to be an active participant in these discussions and asks its members to do the same by submitting comments and keeping pressure on their elected officials to support the industry in securing these needed changes.”

National Pork Producers Council President Ken Maschhoff, a pork producer from Carlyle, Illinois, said in a statement, “The ELDs regulation poses some serious challenges for livestock haulers and the animals in their care. This waiver will give the department time to consider our request that truckers transporting hogs, cattle and other livestock be exempt from the ELDs mandate. Drivers transporting livestock have a moral obligation to care for the animals they’re hauling.”

Formal publication of the guidance via the Federal Register is expected within the next two weeks and will include a public comment process.

For more information on ELDs visit https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/hoursservice/ elds/electronic-logging-devices.

Larry Dreiling can be reached at 785-628-1117 or ldreiling@hpj.com.