By Mary Kennedy
DTN Cash Grains Analyst
OMAHA (DTN) -- Truckers who haul agriculture products and livestock have been granted another three-month reprieve from a rule mandating the implementation of electronic logging devices.
The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on Tuesday announced "additional steps to address the unique needs of the country's agriculture industries and provided further guidance to assist in the effective implementation of the congressionally mandated electronic logging device (ELD) rule without impeding commerce or safety."
This comes after the FMCSA announced on Nov. 20, 2017, that it was granting a 90-day exemption for truckers hauling agriculture loads and livestock to comply with the ELD mandate that went into effect Dec. 18, 2017. That exemption was set to expire March 18, 2018.
In a news release on March 13, the FMCSA announced an additional 90-day temporary waiver from the ELD rule for "agriculture-related transportation." Additionally, during this time period, FMCSA noted they will publish "final guidance on both the agricultural 150 air-mile hours-of-service exemption and personal conveyance." FMCSA also noted it will "continue its outreach to provide assistance to the agricultural industry and community regarding the ELD rule."
"We continue to see strong compliance rates across the country that improve weekly, but we are mindful of the unique work our agriculture community does and will use the following 90 days to ensure we publish more helpful guidance that all operators will benefit from," said FMCSA Administrator Ray Martinez.
The FMCSA noted that since December 2017, industry-wide roadside compliance with the hours of service record-keeping requirements, including the ELD rule, has been steadily increasing, with roadside compliance reaching a high of 96% in the most recent available data. There are over 330 separate self-certified devices listed on the registration list.
Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue issued the following statement Tuesday afternoon: "The ELD mandate imposes restrictions upon the agriculture industry that lack flexibility necessary for the unique realities of hauling agriculture commodities. If the agriculture industry had been forced to comply by the March 18 deadline, live agricultural commodities, including plants and animals, would have been at risk of perishing before they reached their destination. The 90-day extension is critical to give DOT additional time to issue guidance on hours-of-service and other ELD exemptions that are troubling for agriculture haulers."
Livestock haulers are grateful for the extension.
"The U.S. pork industry is grateful to DOT Secretary [Elaine] Chao and FMCSA Administrator Martinez for this additional waiver from the ELD rule, which poses some serious challenges for livestock haulers and the animals in their care," said National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) President Jim Heimerl, a pork producer from Johnstown, Ohio. "This will provide the department and Congress additional time to find a solution that meets the unique needs of livestock haulers."
The National Cattlemen's Beef Association President Kevin Kester Tuesday praised the U.S. Department of Transportation's decision to delay the electronic logging device mandate another 90 days for agricultural haulers.
"This is obviously good news for America's cattle haulers and producers, and it will provide more time to educate our livestock haulers on the ELDs while the industry works on solutions to the current hours of service rules that simply do not work for those hauling live animals."
Kester added, "We would like to thank Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao and FMCSA Administrator Ray Martinez for listening to our concerns and working with us to find a permanent, workable solution."
One important date to remember is April 1, 2018, which is when full enforcement of the ELD mandate begins. A "soft enforcement" was in place when the mandate went into effect on Dec. 18, 2017, but "strict enforcement" was delayed until April 1, 2018.
According to the FMCSA, carriers who do not have an ELD when required will be placed out of service.
"The driver will remain out-of-service for 10 hours in accordance with the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance criteria. At that point, to facilitate compliance, the driver will be allowed to travel to the next scheduled stop and should not be dispatched again without an ELD." If the driver is dispatched again without an ELD, the motor carrier will be subject to further enforcement action.
For more information and on the ELD mandate, visit the FMCSA at: http://bit.ly/…
Mary Kennedy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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