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FMCSA studying HOS revisions for agricultural definitions

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is seeking public comment on revising agricultural commodity or livestock definitions in hours-of-service (HOS) regulations.

The agency said it worked closely with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) on this effort to provide clarity for the nation’s farmers and commercial drivers.  

“The agriculture industry is vital to our nation and we look forward to receiving input that will help clarify these definitions, improve safety, and offer additional flexibility to farmers and commercial drivers,” said US Transportation Secretary Elaine L Chao.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue added: “The current regulations impose restrictions upon the agriculture industry that lack flexibility necessary for the unique realities of hauling agriculture commodities. We look forward to continuing to work with Secretary Chao on revising these regulations.”

Currently, during harvesting and planting seasons as determined by each state, drivers transporting agricultural commodities, including livestock, are exempt from the HOS requirements from the source of the commodities to a location within a 150-air-mile radius from the source. The advanced rule (ANPRM) authored by FMCSA was prompted by indications that the current definition of these terms may not be understood or enforced consistently when determining whether the HOS exemption applies.

“FMCSA has worked closely with the agriculture industry and USDA in crafting this advanced notice. We have heard concerns from the industry, and we are acting,” said FMCSA Administrator Raymond P Martinez. “We encourage all CMV stakeholders, especially those involved in transporting agricultural commodities and livestock, to provide valuable feedback on how the current definitions impact safety, compliance, and enforcement.”

The American agriculture industry contributes more than $1 trillion annually to the nation’s economy. The Trump Administration has been working to strengthen the agriculture industry by streamlining regulations, bolstering farm programs, and renegotiating the outdated North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with the signing of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) to improve access to Canadian and Mexican markets. 

Additional information on the ANPRM, including how to submit comments to the Federal Register docket, is available at fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations/hours-service/hours-service-drivers-definition-agricultural-commodity.

In June 2018, FMCSA announced regulatory guidance for transportation of agricultural commodities. Learn more at fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations/regulatory-guidance-concerning-transportation-agricultural-commodities.

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