Bill Seeks to Give Agriculture Sector a Stronger Role in Developing Ag-related Transportation Regulations

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, today announced her support for legislation to give the agriculture sector a greater voice in setting policies on transporting livestock and agriculture commodities.

Hyde-Smith is an original cosponsor of the Modernizing Agricultural Transportation Act (S.600), which would establish a working group within the U.S. Department of Transportation to develop Electronic Logging Device (ELD) and Hours of Service (HOS) policy and legislative reforms for transporting livestock and other agricultural commodities.

“The goal of this legislation is to allow the agricultural sector to make real-world, commonsense recommendations on shipping livestock and commodities safely,” Hyde-Smith said.  “I believe this working group will result in greater flexibility and fewer federal regulatory burdens on farmers and ranchers.”

S.600 would give the working group a year to make recommendations on improving the transportation of agriculture commodities, including livestock and insects.  Made up of representatives from transportation and agriculture industries, transportation safety advocates, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the group would be required to:
•    Consider problems with existing HOS and ELD rules administered by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA); and,
•    Propose initiatives and regulatory changes to protect highway safety and allow for the safe, efficient, and productive marketplace transport of agricultural commodities.

Within 120 days of receiving the working group’s report, the Transportation Secretary must propose HOS and ELD regulatory changes, taking into account the recommendations of the working group.  The bill would also delay enforcement of the ELD rule until the required reforms are formally proposed by the Transportation Secretary.

Introduced by Senator John Hoeven (R-N.D.), the bipartisan Modernizing Agricultural Transportation Act is supported by the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, United States Cattlemen’s Association, Livestock Marketing Association, and other groups.

The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.  The text of the legislation is available here.

Hyde-Smith, who has supported efforts to foster greater flexibility for livestock haulers and agricultural commodities, cosponsored similar legislation last year.  In response, the FMCSA last August offered HOS regulatory relief, including a 150 air-mile agriculture exemption.  In addition, the recently-signed FY2019 Consolidated Appropriations Act also includes provisions to delay the implementation of ELD and HOS regulations through Sept. 30.