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New bill supports ag transporters

New bill supports ag transporters

The HAULS Act eliminates seasonal harvest requirements for industry hours-of-service exemptions

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

A U.S. senator has introduced a piece of legislation designed to provide ag haulers with more flexibility.

Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), chairwoman of the Senate Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Transportation and Safety, put forward the Haulers of Agriculture and Livestock Safety (HAULS) Act on Sept. 30. The bill, if passed, would adjust transportation rules to allow commodity transporters to operate more efficiently.

One of the bill’s goals is to extend hours-of-service exemptions in agriculture to year-round across the country.

This step would eliminate the requirement that ag and livestock hours-of-service exemptions only apply during state-designated planting and harvesting seasons.

Multiple states already classify planting and harvesting periods as taking place all year, but some don’t.

In Kentucky, for example, the planting period is from March 1 to Nov. 23, and the harvest period is from June 1 to Dec. 15.

Within those windows, ag transporters aren’t required to use an electronic logging device (ELD).

But between Jan. 1 and Feb. 28, and Dec. 16 to 31, drivers in that state would have to use their ELDs.

In addition, the bill would authorize a 150 air-mile exemption from hours-of-service requirements on the destination of a haul.

This change would mean livestock haulers, for example, wouldn’t have to worry about running out of time before reaching their destination and having to leave a trailer full of livestock idle for 10 consecutive hours before being allowed to continue.

Current Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration rules allow the exemption for trips within 150 miles of the source of the commodity in transport.

The final part of the bill calls for updated definitions of agricultural commodities to include “non-processed products of any non-human living animal” including milk, eggs and honey, animal feed and the ingredients found in animal feed.

Multiple industry groups support Fischer’s bill.

“Farmers and ranchers must be able to get their crops and livestock to market efficiently and safely,” Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, said in a statement. “The HAULS Act modernizes trucking regulations to meet the needs of our members.”

The bill’s language “provides the ag community with continued flexibility during the busiest times of the year, while expanding uniformity and clarity for the transportation of our nation’s ag products,” Jon Samson, executive director of the Agricultural and Food Transporters Conference, said in a statement.

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