Livestock groups are pleased that the U.S. Department of Transportation is seeking public comment on proposed revisions to rules that apply to truckers’ time behind the wheel.
Of specific concern is how those rules apply to livestock haulers transporting animals that are vulnerable to extreme temperatures.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration today announced that it is seeking public comment on revising four specific areas of current hours-of-service regulations, which limit the operating hours of commercial truck drivers.
The comment period will be open for 30 days, and the first in a series of public listening session will be held in Dallas, Texas, on Friday and live streamed through the agency’s website.
Groups representing livestock producers were quick to issue statements on the announcement.
The American Farm Bureau Federation said FMCSA’s proposals recognize the difficulties inherent in moving both farm commodities and livestock.
“We are grateful for this first step to consider options for flexibility in hours-of-service rules,” Andrew Walmsley, AFBF director of congressional relations, said.
Farm Bureau will continue to work with partners in industry, FMCSA and Congress to find long-term solutions that address the unique needs of transporting agricultural products, the hauling of live animals in particular, he said.
“It is imperative that we seek solutions that account not just for motorist safety but the health and welfare of animals being transported, as well,” he said.
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association is grateful for FMCSA’s willingness to consider options for flexibility in the rules.
“NCBA will continue to work constructively to find a long-term solution that gives livestock haulers the flexibility they need within hours of service to protect the welfare of animals in their care,” Allison Rivera, NCBA executive director of government affairs, said.
The proposals are a positive step toward focusing on needed changes to hours-of-service rules, she said.
“But more specific changes that address the unique realities of the livestock-hauling industry are still needed. We will continue to work with FMCSA to provide flexibility for the livestock-hauling industry,” she said.
National Pork Producers Council will be reviewing the agency’s request for comment and will submit comments by the deadline, Dave Warner, NPPC director of communications, said.
“NPPC and the livestock industry will work with DOT to develop a more reasonable approach to regulating the transportation of livestock, one that ensures the safety of the nation’s roads and the well-being of animals,” he said.
The four specific areas under consideration for revision are:
• Expanding the current 100 air-mile “short-haul” exemption from 12 hours on-duty to 14 hours on-duty, in order to be consistent with the rules for long-haul truck drivers.
• Extending the current 14-hour on-duty limitation by up to two hours when a truck driver encounters adverse driving conditions.
• Revising the current mandatory 30-minute break for truck drivers after 8 hours of continuous driving.
• Reinstating the option for splitting up the required 10-hour off-duty rest break for drivers operating trucks that are equipped with a sleeper-berth compartment.
More information is available at: www.fmcsa.dot.gov .