On Friday, DOT released details on the initial 90-day waiver from the requirement for agricultural and livestock haulers to obtain Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs). The 90-day waiver begins December 18th and allows the agency time to further examine our exemption request while developing additional guidance for agricultural haulers.

On September 12, 2017, Farm Bureau, National Pork Producers Council, National Cattleman’s Beef Association, and five other livestock, aquaculture and beekeeping organizations petitioned the Department of Transportation (DOT) for a waiver and limited exemption from the ELD mandate for drivers who haul livestock, live fish and insects.

On December 18, 2017, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) ELD mandate will go into effect except for those transporting agricultural commodities and livestock.  Those haulers will be granted an initial 90-day waiver from compliance.

Most farmers and ranchers should be exempt from the ELD mandate because they can claim covered farm vehicle (CFV) status.  Those who cannot claim CFV status will be able to take advantage of the 90-day waiver.  This waiver will be officially published soon, but it waives the ELD mandate for those transporting agriculture commodities, livestock, fish and insects through March 18, 2018.

Additional information can be found in the waiver, but it should be noted that drivers who are operating under this waiver must carry a copy of the notice and present it to motor carrier safety enforcement officials upon request. In addition, any carriers operating under this waiver must notify FMCSA within 5 business days of any accident.

In addition to the waiver, FMCSA also plans to publish clarifying guidance to the current HOS ag exemption.  FMCSA guidance would clarify two issues:

  1. Drivers operating unladen/empty vehicles traveling either to pick up an agricultural commodity, as defined in 49 CFR 395.2, or returning from a delivery point; and
  2. Drivers engaged in trips beyond 150 air-miles from the source of the agricultural commodity.

The guidance that has been drafted for these two issues is as follows:

Question 34: Does the agricultural commodity exception (395.1(k)(1)) apply to drivers while driving unloaded to the source where an agricultural commodity will be loaded, and to the unloaded return trip after delivering an agricultural commodity under the exception?

Guidance: Yes, provided that trip does not involve transporting other cargo and the sole purpose of the trip is to complete the delivery or pick up of agricultural commodities, as defined in part 395.2. In that case, driving and on-duty time are not limited, nor do other requirements of part 395 apply.

Question 35: Does the agricultural commodity exception apply if the destination for the commodity is beyond the 150 air-mile radius from the source?

Guidance: The exception applies to transportation during the initial 150 air-miles from the source of the commodity. Once a driver operates beyond the 150 air-mile radius of the source, part 395 applies. Starting at zero from that point, the driver must then begin recording his or her duty time, and the limits under the 11-hour, 14- hour, and the 60/70- hour rule apply. Once the hours of service rules begin to apply on a given trip, they continue to apply for the duration of the trip, until the driver crosses back into the area within 150 air-miles of the original source of the commodities and is returning to that source. If the driver is not returning to the original source, the HOS rules continue to apply, even if the driver reenters the 150-mile radius.

In addition to the guidance, FMCSA is also asking for input on what should be included as the “source” of the commodity. They are looking to include the grain elevator (which would include elevator-to-elevator movements) and sale barns/livestock marketing locations. Once issued, the comment period will be open for 30 days.