(WASHINGTON) – Wednesday, Montana Senators Jon Tester and Steve Daines along with Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse introduced a bipartisan bill to provide livestock haulers with regulatory relief from the restrictive Hours-of-Service (HOS) rules. The bill, the Transporting Livestock Across America Safely Act, changes a Department of Transportation rule that requires drivers who haul live animals to adhere to strict time constraints monitored by Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs), exempting them from some road time requirements and allowing them to better care for the live animals they are transporting.
Beginning in December 2017, the U.S. Department of Transportation started requiring commercial drivers to install ELDs to track compliance with Hours of Service rules. However, these new requirements can prevent livestock haulers from safely completing trips.
Specifically, the new bill would make the following changes:
- Increase the exempt air miles from the current 150 to 300
- Increase the current driving time from 11 hours to not less than 15 and no more than 18 hours
- Grant flexibility for drivers to rest when they need to without counting against the hours of service time
- If a driver comes within 150 air miles of their delivery point, they may continue to finish their delivery regardless of hours of service.
- After the drive is completed a driver will rest for 10 hours if hours of service are 15 hours of driving time and for 13 hours of hours of service if driving time is 18 hours.
16 other Senators joined in support of the legislation, including:
Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY)
Senator Kevin Cramer (R-ND) Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS)
Senator James Risch (R-ID) Senator Doug Jones (D-AL)
Senator Steve Daines (R-MT) Senator John Hoeven (R-ND)
Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) Senator Mike Rounds (R-SD)
Senator James Lankford (R-OK) Senator Mike Braun (R-IN)
Senator Tina Smith (D-MN) Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA)
Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID) Senator Deb Fischer (R-NE)
Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS)
“Ranchers and livestock haulers face unique circumstances when hauling live animals, and the rules should reflect that,” Tester said. “This bill gives them the flexibility they need to safely transport their product and get it to market in time while protecting both the animals and their bottom line.”
Montana Republican Senator Steve Daines said, “Our ranchers and livestock haulers don’t need some burdensome government mandate telling them how to do their jobs. This legislation is about strengthening our rural communities and stopping a policy that’s harming Montana agriculture. I’ll continue to fight for common sense solutions that remove undue burdens and restore certainty for our ranchers and livestock haulers.”
“Animal safety and driver flexibility are vital to maintaining a robust agricultural industry,” says Wyoming Republican Senator Mike Enzi. “Current regulations require extended stops, which can be harmful for livestock during freezing winter months or hot summer months. This bill makes several modifications to existing regulations to help ensure Wyoming’s agriculture industry can continue to grow.”
Cattle industry organizations welcomed the introduction of the bill. United States Cattlemen’s Association (USCA) Transportation Committee Chairman Steve Hilker issued the following statement:
“We greatly appreciate the work of Senators Tester and Sasse in bringing forth a prescriptive solution for livestock haulers that gives them the flexibility needed to get their live cargo to its destination as safely and efficiently as possible. This bill will not only allow drivers to take a rest break when it is needed, not when it is required, it will also increase the safety and welfare of the animals.
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association senior vice president of government affairs, Colin Woodall also hailed the new bill saying, “The current Hours of Service rules for livestock haulers present major challenges for our industry and can often jeopardize the health and well-being of livestock,” said Colin Woodall, NCBA’s senior vice president of government affairs. “Hauling livestock is inherently different than hauling typical consumer goods, like paper towels or bottles of water. Live cattle cannot simply be left unattended in a trailer – especially in very hot or cold weather – for extended periods of time. This bill recognizes the unique needs of livestock haulers, and we are grateful for the continued support of Senator Sasse and the other co-sponsors.”