The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) today announced additional steps to address the unique needs of the country’s agriculture industries and provided further guidance to assist in the effective implementation of the Congressionally-mandated electronic logging device (ELD) rule without impeding commerce or safety.
FMCSA is announcing an additional 90-day temporary waiver from the ELD rule for agriculture related transportation. Additionally, during this time period, FMCSA will publish final guidance on both the agricultural 150 air-mile hours-of-service exemption and personal conveyance.
It is important to note that this 90 days is an extension of the previous 90 days given to all agriculture commodity haulers. This is not a final decision on the livestock specific ELD exemption request filed in September—a determination on that request is still to be made. The AHC will continue to push for this exemption along with other livestock industry associations. The welfare, safety, and health of the animals in transit, together with the safety of other drivers on the road, are top priorities for the equine industry and its enthusiasts.
The AHC will continue to work with the FMCSA and the DOT during this delay to better meet the needs of the animal agriculture community to ensure that there are no unintended consequences from current ELD regulations.
If you have any questions, please contact the AHC.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) followed their recent meeting with AHC staff, a meeting in response to the AHC request for clarification , by releasing two documents on the existing Commercial Driver License (CDL) regulations and how those regulations impact the horse industry. The AHC is appreciative of the horse specific efforts that FMCSA have taken to quell the concerns of our recreational enthusiasts.
The guidance titled “Agricultural Exceptions and Exemptions to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Hours of Service (HOS) and Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) Rules” and “Non-Business Related Transportation of Horses ” explain how published FMCSA guidance provides an exception for the transportation of horses when the transportation in question is not business related (neither for compensation, nor where the driver is engaged in an underlying business related to the move). In these cases, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations do not apply, even if prize or scholarship money is offered. This includes the Hours-of-Service (HOS) regulations, requirements for Electronic Logging Devices (ELD) and CDL regulations, unless required by the driver’s home state. Both documents contain example scenarios that may help horse owners better understand the regulations as they exist today.
The AHC will continue to pursue clarifications until the industry is satisfied that there are no unintended consequences from current CDL or ELD regulations. The AHC will take action where clarifications are not sufficient, including the continued collaboration with the entire livestock industry to get a delay in ELD enforcement.
AHC staff are still compiling the industry’s concerns and questions to forward to DOT and invite people to share their comments. Additionally, DOT has established a specific email address for agricultural specific questions at firstname.lastname@example.org . This address will be used to generate a future F.A.Q. page.
The AHC encourages our members to share their questions to the DOT email as well to better highlight the existing concerns regarding the interpretation of CDL regulations. If clarifications and the F.A.Q. fail to address the concerns of our members, then the AHC will continue their efforts and pursue both legislative and regulatory solutions.
AHC Meets with Department of Transportation, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
The American Horse Council met with Department of Transportation (DOT), Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Deputy Administrator and leadership team this week in response to a letter sent to Secretary Chao on January 28th, 2018. AHC staff went to DOT headquarters to raise the industry’s concerns and solicit clarification on how the existing regulations should be interpreted, and how those interpretations are affecting the horse industry.
The AHC expressed the industry’s interest in an increased level of stakeholder outreach, the lack of uniform interpretations nationwide, the applicability of various exemptions already in place, and the appropriate avenues for future legislative and regulatory efforts. AHC shared specific situations where rodeo, racing, competition and recreational sectors have interacted with law enforcement concerning commercial regulations.
The DOT informed the AHC that a new website specifically tailored to the agricultural industry will be unveiled in the next week, with a dedicated contact for agricultural questions, and they will begin to develop a F.A.Q. to more clearly address the questions which they receive.
The DOT members present did clarify that trailer drivers not engaged in business are not subject to Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) regulations, specifically where additional licensing is concerned. Regardless of weight, it was the interpretation of those present that going to an event that may issue prizes does not necessarily constitute commercial activity. As long as participation in the competition itself is not a component of the business with which that driver or the vehicle are regularly engaged, and expenses for said trip are not deducted for tax purposes, a CDL is not required to operate the CMV in question. Those interpretations, as are all CMV regulations, are specific to federal regulations, and state regulations may be less forgiving.
The AHC is excited about the opportunity to develop this relationship with DOT-FMCSA. The equine community should look forward to utilizing these lines of communication in the future to assure industry wide compliance and protection of individuals driving both commercially and recreationally. The AHC encourages the industry to reach out to state law enforcement to determine how best to comply with the state regulations. As additional information on this subject becomes available, the AHC will share that with our members as quickly as possible.
The upcoming Electronic Logging Device deadline has sparked an animated discussion within the horse industry. The AHC would like to note that these are federal regulations that are left to state officials to be enforced. This division of responsibilities, and potentially divergent interpretation, is the basis for the sense of confusion felt across the industry.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) have told the AHC that the regulatory changes within the department are several years behind schedule. As such, addressing the current state of compliance is critically important to the industry and the continuation of the equestrian sport and way of life.
In that light, the AHC is working collectively with the larger livestock industry to seek more concise and plainly presented expectations for the equine industry to follow. The following letter was sent to Secretary Elaine Chao with the Department of Transportation in the hopes that DOT will address these concerns. Depending on the response from Secretary Chao and DOT, AHC is prepared to pursue new regulatory and legislative options that ensure the continuity and protection of the equine industry. View the letter here.
Please contact the AHC if you have any further questions.
American Horse Council Efforts to Address ELD Mandate
Over the past months the American Horse Council (AHC) has reached out to the equine community to determine the potential impact of the upcoming Electronic Logging Device mandate. Based on the information received, the AHC, in collaboration with the rest of the animal agriculture community, has requested that the Department of Transportation (DOT) grant a one-year enforcement delay followed by a waiver and limited exemptions from compliance with the December 18, 2017 implementation date for the Final Rule on Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) and Hours of Service (HOS). Additionally, we requested that the DOT address the significant problems with the mandate that will occur if the compliance deadline is not extended. The welfare, safety, and health of the animals in transit, together with the safety of other drivers on the road, are top priorities for the equine industry and its enthusiasts.
The livestock sector has consistently been one of the safest of the commercial hauling sectors. The Large Truck Crash Causation Study, conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Institute, showed that of 1,123 accidents involving trucks hauling cargo, only five involved the transportation of livestock. Similarly, the report titled Trucks Involved in Fatal Accidents Fact-book 2005 , conducted by the Transportation Research Institute, shows that livestock transporters accounted for just 0.7 percent of fatal accidents. The ELD mandate itself, which is the subject of this petition, does nothing to improve that record of safety over paper logs.
While this figure is not irrelevant, and any safety improvements should be considered, the trajectory of this rule’s implementation has left much to be desired. Despite its being issued nearly two years ago, awareness of this rule among livestock haulers and the equine industry is nearly non-existent. For instance, FMCSA’s recent change to include livestock in its interpretation of the 150-air mile exemption for agricultural commodities, a change that the industry strongly supports and appreciates, has raised many additional questions from livestock haulers who are unsure about the mechanics of the new exemption and even if it means they are exempt from the ELD mandate altogether. More time is needed to reach out to the horse industry, and ensure that industry outreach can address ELD compliance and ELD impact.
Many horse operations and competitions are in rural areas, routinely requiring long, and repeated, trips. These animals, when loaded onto trailers, are vulnerable to changes in temperature, humidity, and precipitation. Horse haulers are accustomed to managing these changing conditions through planning, log books and notations in those books. These planning techniques have adapted and evolved over decades as technology has improved. Unfortunately, the quick transition to ELDs does not allow for the natural trial and error process to adequately meet the needs of the horse industry.
The equine industry and the millions of horse fans who attend equine events rely on safe and effective methods of transportation from every corner of the United States. Domestic transit of our competition and breeding animals is critical to the business continuity of our industry and largely relies on the use of large commercial haulers. These individuals have expressed their concern with the implications of this rule in regards to the negative impacts to standards in welfare, biosecurity and cost.
We are disappointed that the FMCSA did not feel the need to reach out to the larger livestock industry stakeholders prior to finalizing this rule, but specifically for not reaching out to the equine industry considering the constant and repeated travel inherent to the competitive, coast to coast nature of our industry. While horse haulers are able to provide more accommodating shipping conditions compared to other livestock sectors, the issues we have with immediate implementation of the rule mirror those of the larger animal agriculture community.
The American Horse Council will continue to petition for an enforcement delay, to be followed by a waiver and/or limited exemptions from compliance with the final rule on ELDs, and specifically the expected Hours of Service (HOS). Additionally we will continue to take advantage of any opportunity to collaborate with FMCSA and the DOT during this delay to better meet the needs of the animal agriculture community on future regulatory efforts.