Farmers and ranchers shipping livestock received good news from the Senate with the introduction of the Transporting Livestock Across America Safely Act, S.2938, and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) updated rules.
The bipartisan TLAAS, originally introduced by Senators Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) and Heidi Heitkamp, (D-ND), was quickly co-sponsored by other senators including Senator Jon Tester, an original cosponsor, and Senator Steve Daines. Currently, overly strict trucking regulations from the Department of Transportation require mandatory rest time that put livestock at risk, especially during summer or winter months. The legislation would give American agriculture the flexibility to safely transport livestock.
The bill will:
· extend the current 150 air mile exemption to 300 miles
· exempt loading/unloading times
· extend hours of service from 11 hours to a minimum of 15 and maximum of 18
· grant flexibility for rest time without counting against hours of service
· allow for trips to be completed if they come within 150 miles of their delivery point
“We applaud Senator Tester and Senator Daines for co-sponsoring this bill,” said MFBF National Affairs Director Nicole Rolf. “It’s rewarding to see that the Senate and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration have taken the concerns of farmers and ranchers into consideration. Farm Bureau has long been urging the FMCSA to develop common-sense rules when it comes to shipping livestock. Kudos to them for taking the time to understand the unique situation livestock owners face when transporting their animals.”
In fact, the FMSCA concurred with Farm Bureau’s positions in all cases with the exception that the 150-air mile radius should be measured from the final pick-up source rather than the first point. They have published a clarification of the rules that covers which operations are not subject to the hours-of-service regulations while operating within the 150-air mile radius of the source of the agricultural commodity and what can be considered the “source” of the agricultural commodity.