Bill would ease HOS requirements for agricultural haulers

January 15, 2020

Mark Schremmer

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A bill that would modify the hours-of-service regulations for truck drivers hauling any agricultural, horticultural, or floricultural commodity was introduced in the House of Representatives on Jan. 10.

The Freedom from Regulating Edible Supplies and Horticulture (FRESH) Trucking Act, or HR5584, was introduced by Rep. Gregory W. Steube, R-Fla.

Proposed changes

Modifications to FMCSA’s existing hours-of-service regulations would include:

  • Loading and unloading of commercial motor vehicles shall be excluded from on-duty time requirements.
  • There shall be no requirement of a 30-minute rest break within the first eight hours of the hours-of-service on-duty requirements and such carrier or driver may take breaks at any time during trip.
  • Such carrier or driver may complete a scheduled trip if they are over the hours-of-service maximum on-duty drive schedule and are within 150 miles of their scheduled delivery point.

The eased regulations would be granted to “any motor carrier or driver transporting any agricultural, horticultural or floricultural commodity.” That would include fresh and processed products, as well as sod and other agricultural products sensitive to temperature and climate and at the risk of perishing in transit.

Steube said the existing regulations can result in dangerous driving practices and spoilage of products.

“My district is the largest citrus-producing district in the United States,” Steube said in a news release. “These citrus producers, and all the hard-working farmers and growers across my district, rely on commercial agricultural drivers to get their products from point A to point B.

“Unfortunately, current federal regulations for drivers often create dangerous driving situations and can lead to the expiration of agricultural, horticultural, or floricultural products, including fruits and flowers. This bill seeks to remedy these issues to improve safety and service.”

FMCSA rulemaking

In late September, the period to comment closed on new FMCSA rules governing agriculture definitions related to hours of service.

Mark Schremmer

Mark Schremmer, associate editor, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant news editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and nearly two decades of journalism experience to our staff.