CONGRESSMAN BISHOP SENDS LETTER TO DOT URGING WAIVER EXTENSION ON ELECTRONIC LOGGING DEVICE RULE FOR TRUCKS CARRYING AGRICULTURAL COMMODITIES
May 25, 2018
WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Wednesday, Congressman Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (GA-02), Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao urging an extension of the existing waiver on electronic logging device (ELD) requirements for trucks hauling agriculture-related products. The current waiver, which was announced on March 13, 2018, is set to expire on June 18, 2018.
Congressman Bishop wrote in the letter:
“As a Member of Congress from one of the largest agriculture-producing states this is an important issue for me and many of my constituents. The ELD rule directly impacts the livelihoods of our farmers, ranchers, and the truckers who support them. With the deadline looming again, I write to urge you and Administrator Martinez to provide another extension.”
“I am also concerned that the current ELD technology is not able to accommodate the agricultural exemption that is provided under the hours-of-service regulations. Without the available technology being able to implement the flexibility that Congress envisioned for perishable cargoes, those exemptions effectively do not exist.”
ELDs track the number of hours truckers are on the road. According to the hours-of-service regulations promulgated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which is the Department of Transportation’s lead oversight agency on commercial trucking, truckers can only drive 11 hours in a 24-hour period.
However, due to the unique requirements of the agricultural industry, and the perishability of agriculture-related products, FMCSA has provided certain hours-of-service exemptions to agricultural shippers. Unfortunately, existing ELDs on the market do not fully accommodate the unique hours-of-service rules that apply to agricultural shippers. This presents unique compliance challenges for the agriculture industry as it ships its perishable items.
FMCSA issued a waiver from ELD requirements for trucks carrying agricultural commodities, which expires on June 18, 2018. Additionally, a separate ELD exemption, set to expire on September 30, 2018, for truckers carrying agricultural livestock was included in The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018 (Pub.L. 115-141). Congressman Bishop believes more time is needed to ensure adequate ELD products reach the market before full implementation of the ELD rule on agricultural shippers.
Additional background on Electronic Logging Devices and the ELD Rule can be found here. Additional background on hours-of-service regulations, as they apply to agricultural shippers, can be found here.
A scan of Congressman Bishop’s letter can be found here. The full letter text can also be found below:
May 23, 2018
The Honorable Elaine Chao
U.S. Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590
Dear Secretary Chao:
In March, I was pleased that the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) granted another 90-day waiver from the electronic logging device (ELD) rule for trucks carrying agricultural commodities. As a Member of Congress from one of the largest agriculture-producing states this is an important issue for me and many of my constituents. The ELD rule directly impacts the livelihoods of our farmers, ranchers, and the truckers who support them. With the deadline looming again, I write to urge you and Administrator Martinez to provide another extension.
The ELD mandate is exacerbating the severe driver shortage. Earlier this month, I heard from a constituent who is a grower and shipper of fresh market sweet corn. He is facing freight rates that are 30 percent higher than normal. As we reach peak corn season he is worried he will not be able to find enough trucks to haul his corn. Unfortunately, this is not an outlier. Shippers across the country and across multiple commodities are paying higher shipping rates. The agricultural community is uniquely affected by these rates since it is shipping perishable products. Timely delivery is critical as there is a very small window from harvest to sale.
I am also concerned that the current ELD technology is not able to accommodate the agricultural exemption that is provided under the hours-of-service regulations. Without the available technology being able to implement the flexibility that Congress envisioned for perishable cargoes, those exemptions effectively do not exist. By further delaying the rule we can ensure drivers are not needlessly vulnerable to inquiries from law enforcement. It will also provide time to fully think through the unique aspects of agriculture transportation.
In particular, I ask that you consider allowing the 150 air-mile agricultural exemption to begin at the final pick up point for multi-point pickups. In my district and across the country drivers must utilize multiple pick-up points to fill their truck. I have small farms in my district, many under 100 acres, which have come to rely on these supply chains and operational efficiencies. Safety must always be a top priority, but it is also our job to ensure regulations are smart and fair.
Further delaying the ELD rule for agriculture commodities will provide relief to both producers and shippers. I appreciate your continued attention to this important issue and look forward to your reply.
With warmest personal regards, I remain
Sanford D. Bishop, Jr.
Member of Congress