DOT Denies Hours of Service Exemption for Livestock: Puts Burden on Cattle Producers

Farm groups have been working with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration agency for months to allow additional time on the road for truckers transporting livestock, insects and aquatic animals and make them exempt from some Hours-of-Service rules.  The livestock industry will retain the 150-mile air radius exemption on the front and back of a shipment, but the agency has denied the HOS request which puts producers at a real disadvantage.  It also couldn’t come at a worse time with a trucker shortage and pending rail strike. 

The agency rejected the exemption saying it wouldn’t meet an acceptable safety level for drivers.  However, farm groups say it doesn’t take into consideration the well-being of the animals being transported and will put a burden on producers.  Kent Bacus, Executive Director of Government Affairs, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, says, "We’ve been operating with this extended relief for the last few years and being able to have that flexibility to determine how we want to ship cattle and what the best time is not only given the weather conditions and road conditions but also you know taking all that into consideration the livelihood of the livestock we’re in charge of."

Rock Valley, Iowa, cattle producer Brad Kooima, agrees.  "I am disappointed in the news. I think that there is a pretty strong group that’s going to try to get our waiver reinstated.  Anybody that’s in this industry knows that this makes no sense for animal welfare."

Bacus says NCBA will continue to look at any possible legal or Congressional recourse. "We have allies and people on Capitol Hill who understand our industry, who understand the significance of this.  So, we may look at those options as well."  Plus, they’ll continue to petition the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to reconsider or compromise. 



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