2017 was a lively year for ELD mandate news — you might even call it “The Year of the ELD.” However, various ELD requirements and compliance deadlines are still on the horizon, a fact that will continue to make 2018 and 2019 lively years for the trucking industry. Coming up next on the ELD mandate timeline: livestock and agricultural commodity haulers.
Next on the ELD Mandate Timeline: Livestock and Agricultural Commodity Haulers
In 2017, the U.S. DOT officially released a waiver granting drivers hauling livestock and agricultural commodities a brief extension on ELD compliance. The temporary, 90-day ELD extension permits agriculture and livestock haulers to meet ELD compliance by March 18, 2018, rather than the standard December 18, 2017 ELD deadline.
Why Livestock and Agriculture Haulers Received an ELD Extension
The possible ELD mandate exemption for livestock and agricultural commodity haulers has been going on for some time now. However, after the FMCSA received a waiver request from the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) — submitted on behalf of eight organizations representing transporters of livestock and other agricultural commodities — stating that ELD requirements “exposed incompatibles between HOS rules and the…industry…causing disruption…and endangering the health and welfare of…animals transported…”, the FMCSA determined that an ELD extension would be in the public’s and animals’ best interests:
“The Agency [FMCSA] has determined that the waiver is in the public interest and would likely achieve a level of safety that is equivalent to, or greater than, the level that would be achieved absent such exemption, based on the terms and conditions imposed.”
To determine if livestock and agricultural commodity haulers should receive an ELD extension, FMCSA also reviewed the crash-rate data from a two-phase safety performance study conducted between 2005-2008. The study compared and examined agricultural and non-agricultural carriers, as well as livestock and utility carriers, who were and were not exempt from HOS requirements and who either drove within or beyond a 100-air-mile radius. While dated, it helped the FMCSA form their waiver decision — you can read more about it on the official ELD waiver.
Who Does the March 18, 2018, ELD Extension Waiver Apply To?
While FMCSA granted the waiver requested by NPPC, the waiver also applies to other eligible motor carriers, including ARA members handling agricultural commodities, as defined under 49 CFR 395.2 and the waiver’s terms and conditions. The ELD waiver applies to:
- Drivers carrying “any agricultural commodity, non-processed food, feed, fiber, or livestock” — no matter the distance traveled or whether the driver crosses state lines. In the waiver, “agricultural commodity” is broadly defined, but it references the description in portions of the existing agricultural short-haul exemption to the hours of service.
- Drivers carrying livestock — no matter the distance traveled or whether the driver crosses state lines. For the ELD waiver, livestock is defined as “…cattle, elk, reindeer, bison, horses, deer, sheep, goats, swine, poultry (including egg-producing poultry), fish used for food and other animals designated…that are part of a foundation herd or offspring.”
Safety & Compliance for Agricultural and Livestock Haulers
This limited ELD extension allows “FMCSA time to evaluate the HOS exemption applicable to the transport of agricultural commodities and review the concerns unique to the agricultural industry identified by NPPC and others.” However, with safety as the main concern, this limited ELD waiver “does not alter any of the HOS regulations other than the method of recording HOS,” and “FMCSA expects that any drivers and their employing motor carrier operating under the terms and conditions of the exemption will maintain their safety record.” FMCSA will take all necessary steps to protect public interest, including the immediate revoking of said waiver for any driver or motor carrier that fails to comply with the terms and conditions.
Temporary ELD Waiver Compliance Requirements for Ag/Livestock Haulers
Included in the aforementioned terms and conditions, drivers and motor carriers operating under the livestock and agricultural commodity ELD extension must meet the following requirements (effective immediately and until a commercial driver meets ELD compliance):
- Carry a copy of the 90-day ELD waiver (this Federal Register notice), and present it to motor carrier safety enforcement officials upon request.
- In the event of a crash, drivers must notify the FMCSA within five business days. Crash details, including the waiver (“AG”), date, crash location, and other crash notification details must be relayed.
- Comply with all other FMCSA requirements, “including the preparation of…[RODS] for operations which are currently considered to be subject to the HOS rules and the record retention requirements associated with those RODS and supporting documents.”
- Have a “satisfactory” (or unrated) safety rating from FMCSA. “Conditional” or “unsatisfactory” rated motor carriers are not eligible to take advantage of this ELD waiver.
ELD Compliance Before March 18, 2018
Use of the 90-day ELD waiver for livestock and agricultural haulers is completely voluntary — you can actually achieve ELD compliance today! Early ELD compliance helps you and your team make the ELD transition easy, as you can conduct proper staff and driver training, as well as take your time to troubleshoot any issues. If you haven’t thought about early ELD compliance, take a look at our Guide to ELD Compliance — it contains a checklist of everything you need to do to make the e-log transition successful and easy.
In the meantime, read more about the ELD compliance extension granted to ag/livestock haulers, and stay tuned as FMCSA expands and clarifies the HOS exemptions granted to truckers hauling agricultural products.