HENRICO, V.A. – U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger — a Member of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee — is cosponsoring a bipartisan bill that would cut red tape and provide much-needed flexibility for livestock and agriculture haulers.
Currently, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) hours-of-service (HOS) requirements limit the time a commercial motor vehicle driver may be on duty to 14 hours, with 11 hours’ drive time — followed by 10 consecutive hours of rest. However, agriculture and livestock haulers face unique circumstances due to the perishability of their animals and commodities. And while Congress has provided limited exemptions from the HOS requirements for agriculture and livestock haulers in the past, farmers, ranchers and livestock haulers still face unique challenges and limitations in comparison to other drivers hauling less perishable cargo.
The Haulers of Agriculture and Livestock Safety (HAULS) Act would help accommodate seasonal spikes in the transportation of agricultural products by modernizing the agricultural exemption to the hours-of-service rules.
“Central Virginia livestock operators should not have to choose between complying with federal regulations or protecting the health of their herd. Instead, our region’s haulers need flexibility to transport their livestock safely and efficiently amid unpredictable weather conditions, loading times, and traffic,” said Spanberger. “By modernizing trucking regulations, the HAULS Act is a bipartisan, commonsense fix that would keep our grocery stores stocked, protect motorists, ensure animal welfare, and reduce the unintended consequences of one-size-fits-all solutions. Our region’s producers know what works and what does not when it comes to transporting their livestock over long distances — and this legislation is one way to make sure their voices are heard at the decision-making table.”
The Spanberger-cosponsored HAULS Act would update the agriculture and livestock HOS exemptions to ensure haulers have the flexibility they need to deliver their perishable products. Specifically, the HAULS Act would:
- Eliminate the requirement that ag and livestock HOS exemptions only apply during state designated planting and harvesting seasons,
- Amend and clarify the definition of “agricultural commodities” based on feedback provided by agriculture and livestock organizations, and
- Authorize a 150 air-mile exemption from HOS requirements on the destination side of a haul for ag and livestock haulers.
The HAULS Act is led in the U.S. House by U.S. Representatives John Rose (R-TN-06) and Darren Soto (D-FL-09). A companion bill is led in the U.S. Senate by U.S. Senators Deb Fischer (R-NE), Jon Tester (D-MT), Roger Wicker (R-MS), and Tina Smith (D-MN).
Click here to read the bill text.
Since first arriving in Congress, Spanberger worked to ease burdensome transportation restrictions that negatively impact Central Virginia crop and livestock producers. In June 2019, she backed a bipartisan bill that would give livestock producers the opportunity to share their concerns about updated federal electronic logging device (ELD) regulations.
And in April 2019 — after hearing concerns directly from Central Virginia livestock producers about ELD rules, Spanberger and a bipartisan group of her colleagues outlined their support for delayed implementation of ELDs for one year and called for the FMCSA to make necessary adjustments to hours of service rules.