WASHINGTON - Today, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) joined Senator Ben Sasse and a bipartisan group of Senators in introducing the Transporting Livestock Across America Safely Act. Currently, overly strict trucking regulations from the Department of Transportation require mandatory rest time that put livestock at risk, especially during summer or winter months. This bipartisan legislation would give American agriculture the flexibility to safely transport livestock.
“The transport of agricultural commodities, particularly livestock, poses unique challenges not faced by other segments of the trucking industry,” said Sen. Ernst. “The Transporting Livestock Across America Safely Act addresses these realities and the shortcomings of the current hours of service regulations by giving truckers the flexibility they need to get cattle, hogs, and other live agricultural commodities to their destination.”
“Nebraska’s economy runs on agriculture,” said Sen. Sasse. “Our ranchers and haulers are professionals who make the well-being of livestock their top priority and that includes safe transportation. The Department of Transportation’s current regulations endanger livestock during hot summers and cold winters — which Nebraskans know well — causing significant stress on the animals and concern for the drivers. This bipartisan bill is good for our ranchers, good for our haulers, and good for our livestock.”
Ernst and Sasse were joined by Senators Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), John Hoeven (R-ND), Doug Jones (D-AL), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Rand Paul (R-KY), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Tina Smith (D-MN), and Jon Tester (D-MT).
On December 18, 2017, the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) required commercial vehicle drivers to install an electronic logging device (ELD) in their truck to track compliance with Hours of Service (HOS) rules. FMCSA exempted livestock haulers from this requirement until March 18, 2018 and a congressional delay has extended it through September 30, 2018.
Currently, for livestock and insects, HOS rules require that haulers turn on their ELD after they cross a 150-air mile radius of the origin of their load (such as cattle). After crossing a 150-air mile radius, haulers must start tracking their on-duty time and can only drive 11 hours before taking a mandatory 10-hour rest time.
The inflexibility of these regulations will be costly for haulers and place the well-being and welfare of insects, cattle, hogs, and other livestock at risk. The current law does not allow flexibility for livestock and insects to reach their destination given the vast geography of production and processing facilities, most often spanning from coastal states to the Midwest. Extended stops for a hauler, which would be necessitated by these HOS regulations, are especially dangerous for livestock during summer or winter months; high humidity and winter temperatures with below freezing windchills cause significant stress on livestock.
The Transporting Livestock Across America Safely (TLAAS) Act addresses these problems and eases the burden of these far-reaching HOS and ELD regulations for haulers of livestock or insects.
Specifically, the Transporting Livestock Across America Safely: