Tester Delivers Truckload of Montana Common Sense to Washington

Senator’s Bipartisan Legislation Will Fix Harmful Livestock Hauling Regulation

(Billings, Mont.) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester is delivering a truckload of Montana common sense to Washington, D.C., by introducing legislation to fix a harmful regulation that will hurt Montana ranchers.

Tester’s bipartisan Transporting Livestock Across America Safely Act will fix a U.S. Department of Transportation regulation that forces drivers who haul live animals, such as cattle and bees, to adhere to strict time limits while on the road. Montana ranchers have told Tester that his bill is needed to help get their loads to market in a timely fashion and protect their bottom lines.

“Montana ranchers and livestock haulers know more about how to get goods to market than the federal government,” Tester said. “Ranchers face unique circumstances as they haul live animals across the country and they should have the flexibility they need to safely transport their products across the country. This bipartisan bill is a common sense solution to a problem that was created by Washington, D.C. without consulting ranching families who have been doing this for decades on their own.”

Starting in September 2018, the U.S. Department of Transportation will be requiring commercial vehicle drivers to install an electronic logging device (ELD) in their truck to track compliance with Hours of Service (HOS) rules. Currently, for livestock and insects, HOS rules require that haulers turn on their ELD after they cross a 150 air-mile radius of the origin of their load. After crossing a 150 air-mile radius, haulers must start tracking their on-duty time and can only drive 11 hours before taking a mandatory 10-hour rest time.

Tester notes that the regulations will be costly for haulers and place the welfare of livestock at risk because extended stops are especially dangerous during summer or winter months.

The Transporting Livestock Across America Safely Act:

  • Provides that HOS and ELD requirements are inapplicable until after a driver travels more than 300-air miles from their source. Drive time for HOS purposes does not start until after the 300 air-mile threshold. 
  • Exempts loading and unloading times from the HOS calculation of driving time.
  • Extends the HOS on-duty time maximum hour requirement from 11 hours to a minimum of 15 hours and a maximum of 18 hours of on-duty time.
  • Grants flexibility for drivers to rest at any point during their trip without counting against HOS time.
  • Allows drivers to complete their trip – regardless of HOS requirements – if they come within 150-air miles of their delivery point.
  • After the driver completes their delivery and the truck is unloaded, the driver will take a break for a period that is 5 hours less than the maximum on-duty time (10 hours if a 15-hour drive time).
  • Montana ranchers and livestock haulers praised Tester’s leadership.

“Creating flexibility within the hours of service rules is essential to ensuring the profitability and viability of both the Montana and U.S. cattle industry,” said Leo McDonnell, Director Emeritus of the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association. “This misguided regulation was created in Washington, D.C. and needed a Montana-solution and Senator Tester led the effort to provide a needed fix to the requirements. Ranchers, livestock haulers, cattle feeders and sale barns owners across our state appreciate Senator Tester’s leadership and work on this important issue.”

“Montana ranchers have been stressing about this rule going into effect for months now,” said Hans McPherson, President of the Montana Farm Bureau. “In Montana, it’s incredibly important for us to be able to transport our livestock long distances in an efficient manner. We thank Senator Tester and the others for introducing this bill because it has many common sense fixes that will aid in the transportation of livestock in a way that is safe for the livestock and people. We hope to see it move quickly and pass into law before the current exemption runs out.”

“These Washington regulations could hurt our bottom line,” said Alan Merril, President of the Montana Farmers Union. “That’s why we need common sense legislation to give us the flexibility to transport our livestock safely and on time. I want to thank Senator Tester for standing up for Montana ranchers and introducing this important legislation.”

“Developing common sense solutions that keep our animals and highways safe has been a top priority for our organization,” said Bryan Mussard, President of the Montana Stockgrowers Association. “I want to thank Senator Tester for standing up for Montana ranchers and introducing this important legislation.”

Tester’s bill is cosponsored by Senators Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.).