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Ag Exemption from ELD Mandate Extended 90 Days
Nebraska Ag Connection - 03/14/2018

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue Tuesday applauded Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao for her announcement of an additional 90-day extension of the agriculture exemption from the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate. Agricultural compliance with the mandate would have been problematic for the agriculture industry because the devices do not accurately account for the agricultural exemptions currently provided in the law.

Agriculture haulers operating within 150 air miles of the source of their agriculture products or livestock do not have to comply with DOT's hours-of-service regulation, which limits driving hours to only 11 hours after being off duty for more than 10 consecutive hours.

The ELD rule went into effect in December with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) granting the agriculture industry an initial exemption that was set to expire on March 18. Chao's announcement gives the agriculture industry will now have additional time to comply.

Secretary Sonny Perdue issued the following statement:

"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."

"Current ELD technologies do not recognize the hours-of-service exemptions for agriculture that are in federal law. This is a classic example of a one-size-fits-all federal regulation that ignores common sense to the detriment of sectors like agriculture.

"I applaud Secretary Chao for recognizing these obstacles and giving extra time for compliance while DOT issues guidance. While public safety is a critical concern for all of trucking, the safety of living agricultural commodities in transport must also be considered."

Senator Deb Fischer of Nebraska facilitated a meeting last month between several Nebraska agriculture representatives from Nebraska Cattlemen, Nebraska Farm Bureau, Nebraska Pork Producers, and the Livestock Marketing Association and Deputy FMCSA Administrator Cathy Gautreaux to discuss the waiver.

"It's good to see the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration be responsive to the concerns raised by Nebraskans following our meeting last month with Deputy Administrator Gautreaux. Nebraskans in agriculture want more flexibility when it comes to these regulations. By issuing this waiver, the agency will have more time to release important guidance for agriculture commodity and livestock haulers," said Senator Fischer. . Senator John Hoeven of North DAkota said, "Today's ELD waiver is good news for our farmers and ranchers," Hoeven said. "This will help ensure that our ag products can get to market. Moving forward, we will continue working with our colleagues in the Senate and FMCSA to provide a solution that does not impose unworkable requirements, which threaten the safety of livestock while in transit."

The waivers align with Hoeven's work to secure flexibility under FMCSA's HOS regulations for truckers hauling livestock. Agriculture groups were concerned that due to the nature of hauling livestock, potential animal safety concerns could arise should a driver not reach his destination within the 11 hours of driving, 14 hour work day allowed under HOS requirements.

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