FMCSA’s HOS ag rule clears White House review

November 18, 2020

Mark Schremmer

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The White House Office of Management and Budget has concluded its review of FMCSA’s interim final rule regarding the hours of service in relation to the transportation of agricultural commodities.

OMB cleared the interim final rule on Tuesday, Nov. 17, meaning a notice should be published soon in the Federal Register.

Back in July 2019, FMCSA issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking seeking public comments on the definitions of “agricultural commodity” or “livestock” in the hours-of-service regulations.

After an advance notice of proposed rulemaking, the typical next step is for an agency to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking. However, the FMCSA has elected to move forward with an interim final rule in this instance. FMCSA sent the interim final rule to OMB for review on Sept. 30.

According to the Federal Register an interim final rule is defined as:

When an agency finds that it has good cause to issue a final rule without first publishing a proposed rule, it often characterizes the rule as an “interim final rule,” or “interim rule.” This type of rule becomes effective immediately upon publication. In most cases, the agency stipulates that it will alter the interim rule if warranted by public comments. If the agency decides not to make changes to the interim rule, it generally will publish a brief final rule in the Federal Register confirming that decision.

FMCSA’s advance notice of proposed rulemaking accepted public input until Sept. 27, 2019.

The agency said the notice was prompted by indications that the current definitions of “agricultural commodity” and “livestock” may not be understood or enforced consistently when determining whether the ag haulers’ hours-of-service exemption applies.

The current definition of “agricultural commodity” refers to any agricultural commodity, nonprocessed food, feed, fiber, or livestock.”

Feedback

The agency received 145 comments on the notice. Many of those comments, which came mostly from agricultural associations and individuals, supported efforts to provide clarity and consistency to the definition and exemptions.

OOIDA said it supported updating and harmonizing the definition of “agricultural commodity” with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. LL

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Mark Schremmer

Mark Schremmer, senior 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 more than two decades of journalism experience to our staff.