March 19, 2021
Senator’s HAULS Act increases hours-of-service flexibility for ag and livestock haulers, allows for more efficient transport of agricultural commodities
(U.S. Senate) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester is fighting to ensure Montana ag and livestock haulers have the flexibility they need to safely deliver their products to market with the reintroduction of his bipartisan Haulers of Agriculture and Livestock Safety (HAULS) Act of 2021.
“Ranchers and livestock haulers face unique challenges when transporting perishable crops and live animals, and the rules should reflect that,” said Tester. “This commonsense bill cuts the burdensome red tape that can prevent ag and livestock haulers from doing their jobs safely, and gives them the flexibility to ensure more of Montana’s world-class products can make it to market.
Hours-of-service (HOS) requirements by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMSCA) limit the time a commercial driver may be on duty to 14 hours and driving to 11 hours. Congress granted limited exceptions to these requirements in 1995, but due to the perishability certain commodities, ag and livestock haulers still face challenges ensuring their products make it to their destination.
Tester’s bipartisan HAULS Act modifies the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999 by updating the ag and livestock HOS exemptions with three key provisions:
- Eliminating seasonality — Current HOS exemptions for ag and livestock haulers apply only during state-designated planting and harvesting periods, despite the growing diversity of crops and agricultural practices that can result in the need for product hauling throughout the year. The HAULS Act strikes the burdensome seasonal limitation on HOS exemptions, ensuring they are available year-round for ag and livestock haulers across the country.
- Adding 150 air mile HOS exemption to destination — In 2018, FMCSA released guidance stating that ag and livestock haulers may begin recording their HOS after crossing a radius of 150 air miles from their beginning location. The HAULS Act provides a similar 150 air mile HOS exemption to the destination of an ag or livestock hauler’s haul to account for the additional time needed to safely navigate rural and minimally maintained roads.
- Clarifying ‘agricultural commodity’ definition — The HAULS Act identifies general ag and livestock products that are either non-processed or minimally processed to fall under FMCSA’s ‘agricultural commodity’ definition, allowing haulers moving these products to utilize the ag and livestock HOS exemptions.
Senator Tester has been a long-time champion in the fight to lift burdensome hauling and trucking regulations, notably securing a bipartisan deal that prohibited the Department of Transportation from enforcing electronic logging device (ELD) rules for livestock haulers. Tester’s bipartisan Transporting Livestock Across America Safely Act further increases flexibility for haulers, exempting them from road time requirements and allowing them to better care for the animals they are transporting. To further support women in the trucking and hauling industries, Tester recently reintroduced the bipartisan Promoting Women in Trucking Workforce Act.
Tester’s HAULS Act is supported by 102 ag and livestock organizations, including the Montana Stockgrowers Association Inc, and the Montana Agricultural Business Association.