The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has extended its hours-of-service exemptions for livestock haulers. This means that such drivers are not bound by the strict federal regulations that impact other trucking sectors, helping to ensure flexibility for the food industry amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Current hours-of-service rules allow for 11 hours of drive time, 14 hours of on-duty time, and then require 10 consecutive hours of rest. When transporting livestock, there is a real need for further flexibility beyond those hours-of-service. Unlike drivers moving consumer goods, livestock haulers cannot simply idle or unload their trucks when drive time hours run out without jeopardizing animal health and welfare.
The FMCSA’s decision to extend the livestock-hauler exemption will help to keep grocery stores stocked with beef and other products.
The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association was one of the most vocal advocates for continuing the exemption, which has been in place since the beginning of the pandemic.
“We are grateful to FMCSA for the extension of this exemption, which will provide livestock haulers continued flexibilities under hours-of-service regulations. I believe FMCSA’s continuation of this exemption indicates their confidence in our producers to keep doing their work safely and effectively, while keeping the grocery store shelves stocked with beef,” said NCBA Executive Director of Government Affairs Allison Rivera.
This exemption had been given because livestock haulers fall into the category of food providers, which along with other industries such as medical, sanitation, and fuel, has been deemed particularly necessary during the COVID. The exemption has been extended multiple times over the past 17 months.
Once a driver has returned to his or her “normal reporting location,” the driver must still receive a minimum of 10 hours off duty to rest.