Hoeven, Bennet introduce HOS, ELD reform bill

Bipartisan legislation to reform the Hours of Service and Electronic Logging Device regulations at the U.S. Department of Transportation was introduced June 12 in the U.S. Senate. Further, the enforcement of the ELD rule would be delayed until the U.S. Secretary of Transportation formally proposes the reforms required under the bill.

Sens. John Hoeven, R-ND, and Michael Bennet, D-CO, introduced the bill known as the Modernizing Agricultural Transportation Act.

“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,” Hoeven said. “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.”

Said Bennet, “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. It is important that we maintain safe roads for all, while also recognizing the unique flexibility needed for the transportation of Colorado’s agriculture products.”

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 will be 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 has the support of 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.

“The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the producers we represent are glad to see another bipartisan effort designed to provide much-needed relief for livestock haulers,” Kevin Kester, president of the National Cattleman’s Beef Association, said. “The Modernizing Agricultural Transportation Act requires the Secretary of the Department of Transportation to establish a working group to address the implementation of electronic logging devices and the overly restrictive hours of service rules that livestock haulers face today. We look forward to continuing our work with members of Congress, industry groups and the Department of Transportation as we work to find solutions to our current transportation concerns.”

Jim Heimerl, president of the National Pork Producers Council, said, “NPPC strongly supports the Hoeven-Bennet bill as a reasonable solution for developing Hours of Service regulations that protect highway safety while allowing livestock haulers to transport animals in a safe and humane way. A trucker hauling livestock can’t just pull over and go ‘off-duty,’ leaving animals unattended. The incompatibility between the Hours of Service regulations and livestock hauling must be addressed.

Chris Hiatt, vice president of the American Honey Producers Association, said, “Striking the balance between highway safety, the well-being of America’s commercial honeybees, and the nearly $20 billion in crops that rely on honeybee transport is essential. The Hoeven-Bennet bill provides a clear pathway to that end.”

Kenny Graner, president of the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association, said, “Both senators recognize the unique challenges associated with getting livestock to their destination as safely and efficiently as possible and through their efforts have acknowledged the extensive safety training that livestock haulers undergo in the U.S. As cattlemen and women, the welfare and comfort of these animals is our number one concern and their needs vary greatly from the needs of a commercial driver transporting steel or furniture. We look forward to utilizing this important bill to work alongside all stakeholders to identify workable solutions to the restrictive Hours Of Service rules for livestock and insect haulers.”

Tom Frey, president of the Livestock Marketing Association, said, “The Livestock Marketing Association applauds Senators Hoeven and Bennet’s continued efforts to find bipartisan solutions for America’s livestock haulers. We believe that livestock haulers are some of the safest drivers in the country and we support additional flexibility to allow them to safely and efficiently transport America’s protein supply.”

Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, said, “American Farm Bureau Federation welcomes the introduction of the bipartisan Modernizing Ag Transportation Act. Farmers and ranchers need the ability to transport our animals to market safely and securely. This legislation creates a framework for producers to work directly with the Department of Transportation to address the challenges surrounding Hours of Service and the Electronic Logging Device mandate. We applaud Senator Hoeven and Senator Bennet on introducing this legislation.”

Dale McCall, president of the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, said, “The Modernizing Agricultural Transportation Act is a common-sense move that will help ease the burden of far-reaching Hours-of-Service and Electronic Logging Device regulations. This bipartisan legislation should finally give the agricultural trucking industry some certainty after all these years. We look forward to its swift passage in the Senate, and eventually the House.”

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