On May 23, Senators Ben Sasse (R-NE), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Jon Tester (D), John Hoeven (R-ND), Tina Smith (D-MN), Pat Roberts (R-Ks), Rand Paul (R-KY), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Doug Jones (D-AL) introduced the Transporting Livestock Across America Safely Act (TLAAS). This bill seeks to ease the burden of far-reaching Hours-of-Service (HOS) and Electronic Logging Devices (ELD) regulations for haulers of livestock and insects.

USCA Transportation Committee Chairman Steve Hilker said his group is pleased with the effort to make livestock hauling regulations more sensible.

"We asked, and Congress answered. This is a historic moment for livestock and insect haulers to finally be afforded needed flexibility in the restrictive Hours-of-Service (HOS) rules. We commend this bipartisan group of Senators, led by Sen. Sasse, for working with the industry towards a common-sense solution.

"Thank you to everyone who has put in many hours, many miles and many late nights to get this piece of legislation brought forth to the Senate floor. We look forward to working with the Senate – and the House – to get the Transporting Livestock Across America Safely Act across the finish line," said Hilker.

NCBA also supports the move.

"This is obviously good news for America's cattle haulers and producers, and it will provide FMCSA (the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) more time to educate our livestock haulers on the ELDs while industry works on solutions to the current Hours of Service rules that simply do not work for those hauling live animals," said Kester.

"We would like to thank Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao and FMCSA Administrator Ray Martinez for listening to our concerns and working with us to find a permanent, workable solution."

The Nebraska Cattlemen thank their Senator, Ben Sasse, a Republican, for his work on the issue.

"Nebraska Cattlemen is extremely appreciative of Senator Sasse's hard work on behalf of our industry and greatly welcomes this legislation. Hauling livestock is very different than hauling any other commodity. Senator Sasse's bill helps fill the gaps that exist between federal regulation, public safety, the needs of producers, and the well-being of the animals under our care," said Galen Frenzen, President of Nebraska Cattlemen.

Current federal law limits haulers to a maximum driving time of 11 consecutive hours in a 14 hour on duty window. This is not enough drive time to support the inherent dynamics of a centrally-located, top cattle-feeding state like Nebraska that receives feeder cattle from locations well over 11 hours away.

Most importantly, HOS regulations pose significant animal welfare concerns. Once a driver hits the maximum hour allotment, he or she must stop and rest for 10 consecutive hours before returning to duty. Stopping the vehicle for an extended period of time, particularly during summer months when high temperatures and humidity pose dire risks for cattle, is simply not an option.

As a result, drivers who reach driving-time limits while hauling livestock will face a difficult decision: compliance with animal welfare laws and guidelines or compliance with federal HOS regulations.

Senator Sasse's Transporting Livestock Across America Safely Act would change federal law to accomplish the following:

• Provides that HOS and ELD requirements are inapplicable until after a driver travels more than 300-air miles from their source. Drive time for HOS purposes does not start until after the 300-air mile threshold.

• Exempts loading and unloading times from the HOS calculation of driving time.

• Extends the HOS on-duty time maximum hour requirement from 11 hours to a minimum of 15 hours and a maximum of 18 hours of on-duty time.

• Grants flexibility for drivers to rest at any point during their trip without counting against HOS time.

• Allows drivers to complete their trip – regardless of HOS requirements – if they come within 150-air miles of their delivery point.

• After the driver completes their delivery and the truck is unloaded, the driver will take a break for a period that is 5 hours less than the maximum on-duty time (10 hours of a 15-hour drive time).