Tester to Propose Fix to Burdensome Restrictions on Livestock Haulers
Senator’s bipartisan legislation will change rules on Electronic Logging Devices
(U.S. Senate) - Keeping his promise to Montana's ranchers, U.S. Senator Jon Tester will reintroduce bipartisan legislation to ease burdensome regulations on livestock haulers.
Tester's bipartisan Transporting Livestock Across America Safely Act will change a Department of Transportation rule that requires drivers who haul live animals to adhere to strict time constraints monitored by Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs).
"When you're transporting live animals, you need flexibility to get loads to market on time and protect your bottom line," Tester said. "Ranchers and livestock haulers know the unique circumstances they face better than anyone in Washington and they should have the flexibility they need to safely transport their product across the country."
Beginning in December 2017, the U.S. Department of Transportation started requiring commercial drivers to install ELDs to track compliance with Hours of Service rules. However, these new requirements can prevent livestock haulers from safely completing trips.
Tester's bill would exclude livestock haulers from these new ELD requirements until a driver travels more than 300 air miles from their starting point while also allowing them to complete their trip if they come within 150 air miles of their destination regardless of their Hours of Service.
The bill, which Tester plans to introduce with Senator Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), exempts livestock haulers from including loading and unloading times-which can take up to a few hours-in their Hours of Service and grants more flexibility in the amount of time they can drive while imposing longer mandatory rest after a trip is completed.
Livestock groups are praising Tester's leadership on ELD reform:
"We greatly appreciate the work of Senators Tester and Sasse in bringing forth a prescriptive solution for livestock haulers that gives them the flexibility needed to get their live cargo to its destination as safely and efficiently as possible," said Steve Hilker, the U.S. Cattlemen's Association Transportation Committee Chairman. "This bill will not only allow drivers to take a rest break when it is needed, not when it is required, it will also increase the safety and welfare of the animals. We look forward to bipartisan support of this legislation that will allow for swift passage into law."
"The Transporting Livestock Across America Safely Act puts the health and safety of livestock first," said Fred Wacker of Miles City, President of the Montana Stockgrowers Association. "Getting livestock from Montana to their final destination in a safe manner is a priority of ranchers and livestock haulers, this act provides the much-needed flexibility to do so. We would like to thank Senator Tester for his continued leadership on finding a permanent solution for livestock haulers."
Tester has been a strong supporter of fixing the ELD rule. When negotiating a budget deal earlier this year, he fought to exempt livestock haulers from ELD requirements until the end of the fiscal year to give Congress time to come up with a solution to the issue. He also introduced the Modernizing Agricultural Transportation Act last month, which would establish a working group to help Congress come up with this solution.