The Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee advanced a critical part of the The Haulers of Agriculture and Livestock Safety (HAULS) Act, allowing for additional time to transport livestock once they’re within 150 air-miles of their destination.
The addition of the backend 150 air-mile exemption from hours-of-service (HOS), crucial language pulled from the HAULS Act, was agreed to by Senator Deb Fischer (R-NE), Senator Jon Tester (D-MT), Committee Chair Maria Cantwell (D-WA), and Ranking Member Roger Wicker (R-MS) in the Senate Commerce Committee and adopted into the larger Surface Transportation Investment Act of 2021 by a bipartisan vote.
Livestock haulers are a critical part of the supply chain keeping grocery stores stocked with high-quality U.S. beef. The upheaval of the pandemic and ongoing market volatility has only underscored the need for further flexibility in livestock hauling regulations to keep the supply chain strong.
“When one-size-fits-all government regulations fail to account for expertise on the ground, livestock haulers are put in the impossible position of either complying with regulations or doing what they know is best for the humane and safe transportation of live animals,” said NCBA Executive Director of Government Affairs Allison Rivera. “We strongly support this bipartisan, commonsense effort to give livestock haulers the flexibility they need to maintain the highest level of safety for drivers on the roads, transport livestock humanely, and ensure grocery stores remain stocked with beef.”
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 the current 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 critical language of the HAULS act was adopted into the larger Surface Transportation Investment Act of 2021. The Surface Transportation Investment Act also includes provisions that would:
- Promote Women in Trucking: In February, Sen. Moran introduced the Promoting Women in Trucking Workforce Act to support women in the trucking industry and establish a Women in Trucking Advisory Board. This legislation would help address the current driver shortage, while supporting women in the trucking industry.
- Extend Farm-Related Commercial Driver’s Licenses (CDLs): Sen. Moran introduced an amendment to the Surface Transportation Reauthorization legislation that would expand Seasonal Ag CDL restrictions and restart the calendar year on Jan. 1 of each year. These modifications would provide more flexibility to drivers and prevent unnecessary delays to farm-industry operations.
- Address Blocked Railroad Crossings: In March, Sen. Moran introduced legislation to identify and address instances of blocked railroad crossings. This legislation would authorize the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)’s blocked crossing portal as a three-year pilot program, ensuring data collection continues. The FRA would be required to analyze submissions to the portal based on key criteria and provide an analysis to Congress.
- Regulatory Flexibility for Livestock Haulers: Sen. Moran cosponsored the Haulers of Agriculture and Livestock Safety (HAULS) Act, which will provide much-needed flexibility to agriculture and livestock haulers. The Surface Transportation Investment Act included critical language from the HAULS Act that would add the backend 150 air-mile exemption from HOS.