On July 5, 2013, the FMCSA announced the agency plans to grant a limited 90-day waver from the new HOS’s 30-minute break regulation for those who are transporting livestock.
The FMCSA states that several livestock groups have voiced their concern about the risk to the animals from the summer heat during the break periods, especially during the heat of the day and in areas where the temperatures soar during the months of July, August and September.
In the FMCSA’s statement, the agency stated it has “determined that it is appropriate to grant a limited 90-day waiver for this period to ensure the well-being of the Nation’s livestock during interstate transportation. The Agency has determined that the waiver, based on the terms and conditions imposed, would likely achieve a level of safety that is equivalent to, or greater than, the level that would be achieved absent such waiver. This waiver preempts inconsistent State and local requirements.”
On June 19, 2013, the National Pork producers Council submitted a 90-day waiver request for the following organizations:
• Agricultural and Food Transporters Conference of the American Trucking Associations; • American Farm Bureau Federation; • American Feed Industry Association; • American Meat Institute; • Livestock Marketing Association; • National Cattlemen’s Beef Association; • National Chicken Council; • National Milk Producers Federation; • National Pork Producers Council; • National Turkey Federation; North American Meat Association; Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association; and, U.S. Poultry and Egg Association.
The request stated that complying with the 30-minute rest break rule would cause harm to the health and welfare of the livestock.
“During the summer months, exposure to heat is one of the greatest concerns in maintaining the animals’ well-being. This is especially challenging for the transportation of pigs because these animals do not sweat and are subject to heat stress. When heat stress occurs, a pig’s body temperature rises to a level that it cannot control through its normal panting mechanisms. Under the industry’s guidelines, drivers are directed to avoid stopping in temperatures greater than 80 degrees. Drivers are advised to stop only when animals will be immediately unloaded or when safety becomes an issue. If the vehicle must be stopped, drivers are required to stay with the animals and provide them with water to help keep them cool,” the request states.
Furthermore, when the heat index is greater or equal to 100 degrees, cattle face a significant health risk. When cattle experience stress from extreme heat, they often become non-ambulatory. Non-ambulatory cattle cannot enter the food system.
There are 64,892 livestock haulers and 242,676 drivers are listed in the FMCSA’s database– 187,606 of those drivers operate within a 100-mile radius.
Carriers with a “conditional” or “unsatisfactory” safety ratings are prohibited from utilizing the waiver.