The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) urged the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to clarify the agricultural commodity exception to its hours-of-service regulations for commercial truck drivers.
In its statement submitted in response to the FMCSA's request in the December 20, 2017, edition of the Federal Register seeking input on the "Proposed Regulatory Guidance Concerning the Transportation of Agricultural Commodities," the NGFA urged FMCSA to clarify that grain elevators, feed and feed ingredient manufacturers, biofuels companies, grain and oilseed processors and millers, and livestock and poultry integrators are a source of agricultural commodities eligible for the exception.
"It is imperative that U.S. freight laws and regulations accomplish their goals without disadvantaging U.S. agriculture, given the highly competitive global marketplace that exists for agricultural products," the statement said. "Having access to a highly efficient freight transportation system and a pool of qualified drivers is critical for U.S. agriculture's competitiveness."
An ideal outcome from the statement sent by NGFA would be “for FMCSA to consider all types of agribusinesses that are part of the agricultural supply chain as a source of agricultural commodities for eligibility under the agricultural commodity exception. This would include agribusinesses that handle raw agricultural commodities and those that handle processed agricultural commodities. Also, for FMCSA to exempt from the electronic logging device (ELD) requirement drivers who predominantly transport agricultural commodities,” said Max Fisher, director of economics and government relations.
Clarification from the FMCSA is expected when the current ELD waiver that protects drivers transporting agricultural products ends on March 18.
“I suspect FMCSA will clarify the agricultural commodity exception to the hours of service rule in tandem with its decision on whether to extend the waiver,” Fisher said.
The National Pork Producers Council has also previously worked with government officials to help regulate trucking restrictions for agriculture.
The NGFA did not coordinate their comments with other agriculture associations. If and when it receives clarification from FMCSA it will include it in its weekly newsletter, said Fisher.
Fisher's letter sent to the FMCSA concluded that “NGFA looks forward to working with the Department of Transportation and FMCSA on additional solutions to address the needs of our industry while continuing to protect the safety of the nation’s highways.”