Measure Streamlines Federal Rules on the Shipping of Commodities like Catfish

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) today announced her full-fledged support for a measure to change federal regulations that currently penalize certain agriculture products, including catfish, once they’re placed on a truck for shipping.

Hyde-Smith is an original cosponsor of the bipartisan Agricultural Trucking Relief Act (S.2025).  The bill would expand the definition of an agricultural commodity to include aquacultural and horticultural products to ensure they are treated the same as other agricultural commodities under federal transportation regulations.

“We need this bill to clarify which trucking rules apply to certain agriculture commodities.  For example, our catfish producers are held to different standards once their product is loaded onto a truck for shipping.  This is an unnecessary federal burden that needs to be fixed,” said Hyde-Smith, who serves on the Senate Agriculture Committee and Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee.

Because catfish, turfgrass sod, nursery plants, and other products are excluded from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) definition of “agriculture commodities,” truckers hauling them are ineligible for exemptions from agricultural trucking regulations setting maximum driving and on-duty time.  

For Mississippi as the nation’s highest producer of catfish products, changing the FMCSA definition of agricultural commodities to include aquaculture would ease federal regulatory burdens on transportation and delivery practices.

S.2025 would effectively provide regulatory relief to haulers as trucking rules are clarified and streamlined across the FMCSA, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Environmental Protection Agency, and other federal agencies.

The Agricultural Trucking Relief Act was introduced by U.S. Senator David Perdue (R-Ga.) and cosponsored by Hyde-Smith, and Senators Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), and John Boozman (R-Ark.).

The Senate measure has been referred to the Commerce Committee, which is chaired by Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).  Companion legislation (HR.1673) has been introduced in the House of Representatives and cosponsored by Congressmen Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.) and Trent Kelly (R-Miss.).

The text of S.2025 is available here.