FMCSA seeking input on agriculture definitions
July 26, 2019
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration seeks public comment on whether or not the agency should revise its definitions of “agriculture commodity” or “livestock” in the hours-of-service regulations.
The advance notice of proposed rulemaking is scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on Monday, July 29.
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 is prompted by indications that the current definition of these terms may not be understood or enforced consistently when determining whether the exemption applies.
“FMCSA has worked closely with the agriculture industry and the U.S. Department of Agriculture in crafting this advance notice,” FMCSA Administrator Ray Martinez said in a news release. “We have heard concerns from the industry, and we are acting. We encourage all commercial motor vehicle stakeholders, especially those involved in transporting agricultural commodities and livestock, to provide valuable feedback on how the current definitions impact safety, compliance, and enforcement.”
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.
Eleven questions are included in the advance notice. Among the questions are if FMCSA should consider adopting a list of specific agricultural commodities and if the list of animals in the current “livestock” definition is adequate.
Once the notice is published in the Federal Register, the comment period will be open for 60 days. Comments can be made at Regulations.gov by using docket number FMCSA-2018-0348.
Jay Grimes, OOIDA’s director of federal affairs, said the advance notice is for the purpose of determining which carriers can be included in the current 150 air-mile radius exemptions.
“What’s on the books now has caused some confusion,” Grimes said.