FROM THE CHAIRMAN
Steve Hilker, Chairman, USCA Transportation Committee and Owner/Operator, Steve Hilker Trucking
For those of you who are new to this issue, here’s a bit of background:
- The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued a mandatory ELD Final Rule effective December 18, 2017 for all trucks over the year 2000 required to complete paper logbooks.
o The ELD connects to the engine to log vehicle motion. It must be certified and registered with FMCSA.
o It interfaces with LE via wireless, USB, Bluetooth or printout.
o It does not transmit live, but law enforcement can get & transmit data when stopping trucks.
As a cattleman, I don’t have to tell you how devastating this regulation would be on the industry. Under the current Hours-of-Service (HOS) rules, livestock haulers are allocated 11 hours of drive time and 14 hours of on-duty time. Once they’ve hit their hours, the ELD will force drivers off the road to take their mandatory 10-hour break. This leaves cattle potentially stranded roadside on the truck. The list of poor outcomes begins to grow exponentially, almost immediately. Not to mention, the financial hit the driver will take as precious time ticks away on the clock will push small and mid-sized trucking companies immediately out of business. It will also put more pressure on an already very thinly populated driver pool.
A few real-world scenarios of this mandate affecting drivers? Runs from Riverton, Wyoming to Dodge City, Kansas or Billings, Montana to Western Kansas. This will affect ALL parts of the cattle industry, in addition to the greater livestock sector.
USCA remains actively involved in seeking greater flexibility for livestock haulers in the upcoming ELD Mandate. We worked tirelessly to include language in the Fiscal Year 2018 Appropriations Bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives that would provide an additional year for our industry to work with the FMCSA to find acceptable solutions to the restrictive Hours-of-Service (HOS) Rules for livestock haulers. The inclusion of this language was a direct result of our trip to Washington, D.C. for the annual USCA Fly-In.
The battle continues in the Senate, where we’ve been working to include the same language in their Fiscal Year 2018 Appropriations Bill. We need all the help we can get, though. Senators are walking away from the issue because they haven’t heard from the countryside. We need EVERYONE in the industry to be making phone calls and letting their Senators know that this is important to them. The below are actions you can take today.
- Call your Members of Congress. Dial (202) 224-3121 and tell the operator your zip code. You will then be connected to your Members of Congress. Remember to be reasonable, rational and respectful when calling – negative comments will only hurt our cause. Here’s an easy script:
a. "Hello, my name is _____ and I am a [Producer/Livestock Hauler/etc.] in your district. I am concerned about the upcoming ELD mandate, set to take effect on December 18th, and the negative effects this regulation will have on small business owners and animal safety and welfare. Please support the one-year delay of implementation of ELDs for livestock and insect haulers, included in the FY18 House Appropriations Bill, so that the industry may use the one-year delay to come up with solutions to the restrictive Hours-of-Service rules with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration."
- Participate in the DOT Public Comment Period – the Department of Transportation is currently requesting public comment for two proposals.
a. DOT’s Review of its Current Regulatory Structure: This is a perfect opportunity to tell how you will be personally affected by the upcoming ELD Mandate. These comments are due December 1st, 2017. CLICK HERE.
b. FMCSA’s Review of the ELD Exemption for Livestock Haulers: In October, USCA joined other livestock groups in asking Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao for an exemption for livestock haulers from the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate and for additional action on DOT’s Hours of Service rules. The Federal Motor Carrier System Administration (FMCSA) has posted the proposed rule online in the Federal Register and is requesting public comment. These comments are due by 11:59 EST on November 30th, 2017. Go to https://www.regulations.gov/ and search for “No. FMCSA-2017-0297”
Writer's Block? Here's a list of talking points to help get you started.
Use this as a starting point and add in your own personal experiences for authenticity.
- ELDs will detrimentally impact the livestock hauling industry. Our members haul live animals - not steel or furniture - and cannot simply 'pull over' when the clock runs out. This poses both an animal safety and welfare risk. Research from Kansas State University suggests that animal transport should be limited to a maximum of 15-25 hours. Additionally, the Master Cattle Transporter program and the National Pork Board's Transport Quality Assurance program offer specific suggestions on keeping animals comfortable on long trips, including temperature considerations and the appropriate length of time animals should be on the trailer. These programs are both government-funded.
- Concerns with implementation of the ELD enforcement deadline of December 18, 2017 still exist. ELD training is not yet incorporated into industry programs such as Pork and Beef Quality Assurance. Thus, livestock haulers should be exempted from the ELD mandate.
- The livestock and insect industries would like to see more flexibility or an exemption on the Hours of Service rules to meet the real world demands and economic expectations of hauling live animals. Livestock industries, including the United States Cattlemen's Association, are working on a long-term solution to this issue while also taking into account new FMCSA guidance on a current flexibility.
- Welcomed flexibility to the HOS rule pertaining to livestock haulers would allow:
a. A 150-air mile grace exemption to RODs at the conclusion of a haul. This would allow a livestock hauler to conclude their journey if they are within 150 air miles of their destination when they “run out of drive time.”
b. A split sleeper berth provision. This would allow livestock haulers to take rests in their sleeper berths whereby any time over two hours spent in a sleeper berth acts as a “credit” for additional drive time.
c. A 24 hour restart on logbook hours of service.
- The economic development of small rural and remote communities will be harmed. Shipping costs will increase, with the brunt of this increase being fronted by the producer and hauler. In some cases, regular shipping in rural communities may decrease in frequency or even become unavailable.
- Find & follow us on social media for up-to-the-minute news and information .
- Looking for a way to get even MORE involved? Call Lia at (202) 870-1552 for more information.