By Jeff Helms
MONTGOMERY, Ala., March 13 — Farmers are applauding an announcement today from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) extending the agricultural waiver for electronic logging devices (ELD).
The agency is giving agricultural haulers an additional 90 days to comply with the rule. FMCSA also will publish guidance on both the 150 air-mile hours-of-service agricultural exemption and personal conveyance.
The 2015 rule required drivers of commercial vehicles involved in interstate commerce to replace their paper driving logs with ELDs by Dec. 18, 2017. In September 2017, farm groups petitioned the agency for relief from the requirement. The initial 90-day waiver was set to expire March 18.
The Alabama Farmers Federation’s Mitt Walker said the extended waiver is good news for farmers and livestock haulers.
“This rule has been extremely confusing for agricultural producers and families engaged in livestock shows,” said Walker, the Federation’s director of National Legislative Programs. “A number of factors including vehicle weight, distance traveled and commercial interest can affect the requirements. The additional time will allow the FMCSA to clarify how the rule should be implemented with respect to the transportation of agricultural goods and livestock.”
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said it’s important the FMCSA consider the distinct challenges faced by agricultural haulers.
“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,” he said. “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, leaving drivers to do twice the work by requiring use of both the ELD and traditional paper logs,” Perdue added. “This is a classic example of a one-size-fits-all federal regulation that ignores common sense to the detriment of sectors like agriculture.”
For more information on ELDs visit: www.fmcsa.dot.gov/eld.
For more information on the hours-of-service exemption for agriculture shipments, visit: www.fmcsa.dot.gov/hours-service/elds/eld-hours-service-hos-and-agriculture-exemptions.