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Update on Electronic Logging Devices for Livestock Hauling

Update on Electronic Logging Devices for Livestock Hauling

We have received several calls requesting information on Electronic Logging Devices (ELD). The following is a refresh on the background of the issue, actions by American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) and an update to help address questions.

On December 18, 2017 the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate will go into effect.  Carriers and drivers who are subject to the rule must install and use ELDs by this deadline.

Most of our membership should be exempt if they can claim Covered Farm Vehicle (CFV) status since they do not have to keep a Record of Duty Status (RODS) inasmuch as they are exempt from Hours of Service (HOS) regulations.

However, there is great concern for those who haul livestock and insects that cannot use the CFV exemption.  Current HOS rules mandate a driver only be “on duty” for 14 hours and actively driving for no more than 11 of those hours. Once a driver hits those maximum hour allotments, the driver must stop and rest for ten consecutive hours.  We do not believe the impending ELD mandate adequately accommodates the concerns of the livestock and insect industry.

AFBF, with others in the livestock industry, recently met with FMCSA to raise concerns about the impending mandate.  The following information was gleaned from that meeting:

  • FMSCA stated that an approved (self-certified) vendor list is available on the FMCSA website
  • FMCSA assured the group that the mandate language prescribes that all compliant devices must have the ability to be turned on to exempt mode and are thus already capable of contemplating ag exemptions
    • The new interpretation of the ag exemption was again confirmed by FMCSA staff in this meeting
    • The new exemption interpretation from FMCSA is as follows:  When transporting livestock, the carrier can take advantage of the exception in 49 CFR 395.1(k). When using this exception, the hours of service regulations do not apply to any work that is conducted within 150 air mile radius (about 172 road miles) of the source of the livestock. That includes loading and waiting time, as well as any driving time that occurs within that radius. Once exiting that radius from the source of the livestock, then the hours of service regulations apply, so from that point of exiting the radius, the driver can drive an additional 11 hours, and work 14 hours. That provides a significant extension to the workday.
    • We are working on getting formal guidance on this interpretation
  • The mandate requires that switching from exempt to non-exempt status cannot be automatic and that the driver must self-select this mode
  • Compliance and taking advantage of ag exemptions hinges on the driver’s understanding of the exemptions
  • FMCSA reminded us that trucks older than 2000 model year are exempt from ELD requirements
  • Anyone currently exempt from logging due to only hauling 8 of every 30 days will continue to be exempt from the ELD mandate

Members are encouraged to reach out to their members of Congress to express concern over the impending ELD mandate.  Talking points for outreach are below:

The requirements of the ELD mandate may force small business owners out of the marketplace while also having the unintended impact of jeopardizing the wellbeing of hauled animals if they can no longer be hauled by highly skilled and trained drivers/stockman.  As such, the following must occur:

  • The current ELD enforcement deadline must be delayed no less than one year to allow adequate time for industry concerns to be addressed as well as necessary educational programming to be conducted.
  • HOS rules applying to livestock haulers must be made more flexible so that drivers can safely do their jobs while preserving the welfare of the animals for which they care.

Concerns with implementation of the ELD enforcement deadline of December 18, 2017 still exist.

Industry members and authorities need more time for concerns to be addressed, as well as time for sufficient training and education to be provided for uniform compliance and enforcement. Currently, ELD vendors can self-certify regulatory compliance of their devices. Industry is concerned that the responsibility to conduct compliance monitoring as well as liability for non-compliant devices will fall to haulers. Also, livestock haulers benefit from certain exemptions under the HOS rules. Unfortunately, haulers and law enforcement may not be aware of the existence of such exemptions and especially a recent FMCSA interpretation first provided in May 2017. Likewise, ELD training is not yet incorporated into industry programs such as Pork and Beef Quality Assurance. Thus, it would be most helpful to the livestock and insect industries if the ELD implementation deadline could be delayed no less than one year for additional education and device testing.

HOS rules need to be made more flexible to account for the unique issues inherent to livestock hauling.

Current HOS rules mandate a driver only be “on duty” for 14 hours and actively driving for no more than 11 of those hours. Once a driver hits those maximum hour allotments, the driver must stop and rest for ten consecutive hours. The livestock and insect industries would like to see more flexibility or an exemption on the Hours of Service rules to meet the realities of hauling live animals.

For example, calves born in the Southeast and West are regularly hauled hundreds of miles to the High Plains and Midwest for grazing pastures and feed yards. Loading and waiting time to load animals is inherently unpredictable. Livestock haulers may “run out of hours” a short distance from the conclusion of their run. Research demonstrates that repeated unloading and loading of animals creates stress, harming the livestock as well as the hauler.

The vast majority of livestock hauls can be safely completed via longer periods of drive time with minor modifications to the HOS rule. Industry is working on a long-term solution to this issue while also taking into account new FMCSA guidance on a current flexibility.



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