Drivers hauling agricultural commodities, especially livestock, have been concerned about the mandates established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration that would have required Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) on commercial trucks by December 19. The news yesterday that FMCSA would grant agricultural industries a 90-day waiver for a mandate was met with optimism by the Montana Farm Bureau and other agricultural organizations.

The greatest concern was not only about equipping trucks with an ELD, but the greater concerns was part of that mandate that would limits truck drivers to only 11 hours per day on the road after 10 hours of rest.

Montana Farm Bureau National Affairs Director Nicole Rolf, said it was good to hear the FMSCA was taking time to consider the exemption requests that have been filed on behalf agriculture. “We are thankful to hear that the FMCSA has issued this 90 day waiver to look into the issue further. We have also learned that the agency plans to release guidelines on the current hours-of-service exemption that they have by statute for the transportation of agricultural commodities, which we hope will be helpful.  For farmers and ranchers, the issue with this rule arises when our cattle, sheep, whatever livestock species it may be, have to be transported very long distances.”

Rolf says the FMCSA needs to realize drivers hauling cattle, hogs or sheep to market can’t simply pull over on the side of the road to rest for 10 hours while the livestock remains on the truck.

“Farmers and ranchers practice exemplary animal care and they don’t want to see their livestock stand for hours on the back of a truck while a driver is forced to stop in order to comply with poorly devised regulations,” said Rolf. “Unloading the animals in the middle of a trip surfaces many other concerns, from disease control to animal safety and manpower. Of course, we want everyone to be safe—the haulers, motorists and livestock—but more thought needs to go into these regulations and exemptions. We certainly thank the FMCSA for giving agriculture that consideration.”