Sens. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and Michael Bennet, D-Colo., recently introduced legislation to revise existing trucking regulations to make them more flexible for drivers hauling livestock.
The “Modernizing Agricultural Transportation Act” would establish a working group at the Department of Transportation (DOT) to examine the federal Hours of Service (HOS) rules and the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) regulations. The HOS rules limit commercial truckers to 11 hours of driving time and 14 consecutive hours of on-duty time in any 24-hour period. Once drivers reach that limit, they must pull over and wait 10 hours before driving again. ELDs record driving time, engine hours, vehicle movement and speed, miles driven and location information, electronically reporting the data to federal and state inspectors to help enforce the HOS rules.
The legislation requires the Secretary of Transportation to establish a working group within 120 days to identify obstacles to the “safe, humane, and market-efficient transport of livestock, insects, and other perishable agricultural commodities” and to develop guidelines and recommendations for regulatory or legislative action to improve the transportation of those commodities. The bill would suspend the ELD regulation for livestock haulers until the DOT secretary proposes the regulatory changes. The National Pork Producers Council supports the legislation as a reasonable solution for developing HOS rules that protect highway safety and allow livestock haulers to meet animal welfare standards.