The FMCSA has recently confirmed that truckers transporting agricultural commodities and livestock would get a temporary 90-day ELD mandate extension.

For the rest of non-exempt truckers, the ELD mandate compliance deadline is still December 18, 2017.

Joe Delorenzo, the FMCSA’s Director of Compliance and Enforcement, said in a media briefing that they would soon come out with a public notice in the Federal Register on the temporary extension for agricultural haulers. The agency will also provide additional guidance to ensure a smooth ELD transition.

Update: The FMCSA has formally issued the 90-day ELD waiver. Drivers running under the waiver must have a copy of the notice for roadside inspections.

The definition of livestock haulers

Delorenzo told that the FMCSA’s public notice would include an exact description of the drivers covered by the 90-day waiver. He emphasized that the description outlined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the 1980s will be used as a basis for the definition of livestock haulers.

The department defines livestock as “…cattle, elk, reindeer, bison, horses, deer, sheep, goats, swine, poultry (including egg-producing poultry), fish used for food and other animals designated…that are part of a foundation herd or offspring.”

The scope of the 90-day waiver, however, will be wider and will extend to agricultural haulers who don’t haul livestock.

Compliance concerns

Delorenzo also added that the extension of the ELD deadline is an offshoot of ongoing discussions with the agricultural transport industry.

A livestock haulers’ coalition asked the FMCSA on October 30 for an extension of the deadline, but the group’s efforts toward extending the compliance deadline started well before the request was made.

The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) and other groups told the FMCSA in its request that livestock haulers will not be ready to meet the deadline, citing “an incompatibility” between federal regulations on Hours of Service and operations of livestock haulers.

Delorenzo noted that concern during his address.

He said, “While the concerns are not related specifically to ELDs, we do feel at this time those items require us to give a little further consideration” (to the agriculture industry’s adoption of ELDs).

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) also pushed for an ELD delay for livestock haulers. They explained that a delay would give them time “to address our industry-specific concerns and give us more time to work with federal regulators to add needed flexibility, as livestock has many challenges and variables.”

Semi-permanent exemptions

Meanwhile, Delorenzo has also confirmed that certain past exemptions secured by livestock haulers would remain in effect.

In 2015, livestock haulers secured a semi-permanent exemption from a 30-minute break required by the hours-of-service regulations. Also, the MAP-21 Highway Funding Act in 2012 gave livestock haulers a more lenient definition of a short-haul exemption, thereby, allowing their 150-mile radius to begin where drivers pick up their load rather than at their company’s headquarters.

What’s next?

The FMCSA issued the 90-day temporary exemption to ensure a smoother transition to ELDs. Livestock haulers have several challenges when it comes to ELD adoption and Hours-of-Service regulations; this extension will allow the FMCSA to resolve those issues. For other non-exempt truckers, the compliance date is still December 18, 2017.

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