Tester Secures Electronic Logging Device Prohibition for Montana Farmers and Ranchers

Senator earns praise from Montana Cattlemen, Stockgrowers, Livestock Marketers, Farm Bureau for bipartisan deal that includes ELD prohibition, FSA funding, PILT, among others

(U.S. Senate) – Legislation to fund the government that was secured this week by U.S. Senator Jon Tester and a small bipartisan group of lawmakers includes significant resources and policy wins for critical Montana agriculture programs, including a prohibition on the Department of Transportation from enforcing electronic logging device (ELD) rules on livestock haulers, as well as full funding for the Farm Service Agency (FSA) and PILT.

While much of the debate about the government funding legislation centered around border security, Tester—a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee—also helped craft six bills to fund the Departments of Agriculture, Interior, Commerce, Justice, Transportation, Treasury, State, and Housing and Urban Development, in addition to other critical programs.

“Our bipartisan deal brings Montana common sense to a bureaucratic problem that’s cost our state’s ranchers time and money,” Tester said. “We’ve secured the much-needed flexibility for our ranchers and livestock haulers to safely transport their products across the country in the way they know best, and I’ll be working to ensure that flexibility is permanent.”

Tester has been a longtime advocate for fixing the ELD rule. Groups across the state praised Tester’s provision in the bipartisan deal:

“We would like to thank Senator Tester for his leadership on the ELD issue,” said Fred Wacker, President of the Montana Stockgrowers Association. “The health and safety of our livestock is our number one priority, the ability to get them to their final destination in a safe and effective manner is key.”

“As a Montana livestock producer and auction market owner, flexibility for livestock haulers is greatly appreciated. Cattle have to travel a long way from where they’re born in Montana to where they’re fed in the Midwest,” said Joe Goggins, a Billings-based rancher and member of the Livestock Marketing Association. “This electronic logging device mandate delay will allow haulers more time to seek needed regulatory and legislative relief so that they can get our livestock safely and quickly where they need to go. We appreciate Sen. Tester’s work to achieve this delay.”

“We’d like to thank Senator Jon Tester and others in Congress for working quickly to delay the implementation of Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) for livestock haulers,” said Leo McDonnell, Director Emeritus of the United States Cattlemen’s Association. “This spending package grants the livestock industry crucial time to work out a more permanent solution to the restrictive Hours-of-Service (HOS) rules. Livestock transporters need to be able to deliver their living, breathing cargo to its destination as safely and efficiently as possible. We brought this issue to Senator Tester and his staff and we’re grateful for the temporary regulatory relief they were able to provide through this provision.”

“Montana Farm Bureau is pleased that our livestock haulers have more time to work on a solution to a mandatory Electronic Logging Device rule,” said Hans McPherson, President of the Montana Farm Bureau. “Although this was passed as part of a larger spending bill, we appreciate Senator Tester’s support of this stop-gap measure to keep Montana Livestock haulers on the road. This is an important step to eventually getting to a permanent exemption of this onerous rule.”

The budget legislation also includes full funding for the Fort Keogh Research Laboratory, despite President Trump’s efforts to close the facility, as well as full funding for the Wheat & Barley Scab Initiative, which the President aimed to eliminate despite its importance to protecting Montana’s wheat and barley crops.

Tester was named to the bipartisan conference committee three weeks ago after the Senate reached a deal to end the 35-day partial government shutdown.

Last month, Tester gave an impassioned speech on the Senate Floor demanding a vote to re-open the government. With over 7,000 affected workers, numerous Tribal Nations, and two of the busiest National Parks in the country, Montana was one of the states hit hardest by the longest government shutdown in American history.