US DOT seeks comment on Agriculture HOS regulations

The US DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is seeking public comment to revise the hours-of-service (HOS) regulations for agricultural commodity or livestock definitions.

The FMCSA partnered with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide clarity for the nation’s farmers and commercial drivers, eliminate confusion and align the agencies’ agricultural commodity definitions.

With the American agriculture industry contributing more than $1 trillion annually to the US economy, the FMCSA recognizes the importance of the agricultural industry.

The FMCSA is determined to find a balance that provides more flexibility to those hauling agricultural commodities.

Current regulations have certain restrictions lacking the flexibility that farmers and commercial drivers need due to the unique realities of hauling agriculture commodities.

Currently, during harvesting and planting seasons, drivers transporting agricultural commodities, including livestock, are exempt from the HOS requirements.

The HOS exemption is called a short haul exemption and applies when the destination of the commodity is within a 150-air-mile radius from the source.

Each individual state is currently determining HOS requirements for agricultural commodities.

The advanced rule (ANPRM) authored by FMCSA was prompted by indications that the current definition of these terms may not be understood or enforced consistently when determining whether the HOS exemption applies.

The FMCSA is encouraging all commercial motor vehicle stakeholders to provide feedback on how the current definitions impact safety, compliance, and enforcement. More specifically, the FMCSA wants to hear from those transporting agricultural commodities and livestock.

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