Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) issued a 90-day waiver on implementation of electronic logging device (ELD) regulations for truckers. The regulations were scheduled to go into effect on Dec. 19. According to Allison Cooke, NCBA executive director of government affairs, the waiver is a win for the cattle business.
“I think what we’ve seen is we received this waiver because of a few things, things that NCBA has been pushing for,” Cooke says. “There hasn’t been a lot of outreach to agriculture from DOT, so we’ve continued to make that request. We also talked about the lack of clarity on the 150-airmile exemption. We want to make sure that not only local law enforcement knows about this exemption, but that our haulers are using it correctly.”
According to Cooke, cattle producers and haulers need formal guidance from DOT. “They told us yesterday that one of the reasons for the waiver is to give them time to take comments on the exemption and how it will best work for our haulers. We will make those comments and then we will take the guidance from them and hopefully it’s strong guidance. And then we will have that exemption in place.”
In addition, NCBA is working the issue on the legislative front, pushing to maintain language in the appropriations bill that calls for a 1-year delay in the ELD regulations. “We’re working on letters from the House and Senate to leadership and Appropriations members right now. We’re going to continue to push for that 1-year delay,” Cooke says.
What’s more, NCBA submitted a petition to DOT that was published in the Federal Register late in October that calls for the an ELD waiver for livestock haulers. “In that petition, we left it open-ended. They could give us as much as a five-year waiver from using the ELD, which means we would go back to using our paper logs,” Cooke says. The 30-day comment period is almost over, so another reason for the 90-day waiver is to allow DOT enough time to consider comments on not just this petition, but several others that other ag groups have filed as well.
According to Cooke, NCBA is seeking a waiver from using ELDs for livestock haulers “because we have a lot of concerns about the ELDs and about implementation. We don’t feel that DOT is ready, we don’t feel they have done enough outreach to law enforcement about some of the ag exemptions and obviously we all need to be on the same page so guys don’t get pulled over and get a ticket when they’re doing the right thing.”
But NCBA’s main focus is working with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) on hours of service. Currently, the regulations call for 11 hours of drive time during a 14-hour on-duty period, then 10 hours of rest.
“So we’ve been having conversations with FMSCA about how we can make changes to hours of service to help livestock haulers and give us the flexibility we need because we’re hauling live animals. That’s our end game.”