‘Agricultural commodity’ definition should jibe with USDA, OOIDA says
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association supports having the FMCSA harmonize the definition of “agricultural commodity” with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
On Sept. 27, OOIDA filed formal comments to the agency in response to an advance notice of proposed rulemaking seeking public comment about the definitions of “agricultural commodity” or “livestock” in the hours-of-service regulations.
“The definition should include any and all species and/or products that fall under the current electronic logging device exemption as approved by Congress,” OOIDA wrote in comments signed by President and CEO Todd Spencer.
Currently, during harvesting and planting seasons as determined by each state, drivers transporting agricultural commodities, including livestock, are exempt from hours-of-service requirements from the source of the commodities to a location within a 150 air-mile radius. FMCSA said the notice was prompted by indications that the current definition of these terms may not be understood or enforced consistently when determining whether the exemption applies.
The current definition of “agricultural commodity” refers to “any agricultural commodity, nonprocessed food, feed, fiber or livestock.”
FMCSA defined “livestock” as “cattle, elk, reindeer, bison, horses, deer, sheep, goats, swine, poultry, fish used for food, and other animals designated by the secretary of agriculture.” In 2018, Congress amended the definition by removing the term “fish used for food” and adding “llamas, alpacas, live fish, crawfish, and other animals that are part of a foundation herd or offspring.” The amended version also removed the secretary of agriculture’s discretion.
The agency said it believes the current term for “agricultural commodity” is ambiguous and that the livestock definition is incomplete.
“The agency can provide clarity to commercial motor vehicle drivers who transport such commodities, the motor carriers who employ them, growers or distributors of those commodities and enforcement personnel by updating and harmonizing this definition,” OOIDA wrote. LL