DOT needs your help defining ‘agricultural commodity’ and ‘livestock’

The FMCSA says that it is trying to provide increased flexibility from HOS regulations for ag and livestock haulers.

Cattle Truck

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) put out a request for comment on revising the definitions of the terms ‘agricultural commodity’ and ‘livestock’ as they relate to truck driver hours of service (HOS) regulations ahead of impending plans to alter those definitions to provide farmers and truckers with increased flexibility.

On Monday, July 22, the FMCSA issued an official request for public comment on whether the definitions of ‘agricultural commodity’ or ‘livestock’ should be revised in order to “improve safety, and offer additional flexibility to farmers and commercial drivers.”

The FMCSA explains that “currently, during harvesting and planting seasons as determined by each state, drivers transporting agricultural commodities, including livestock, are exempt from the HOS requirements from the source of the commodities to a location within a 150-air-mile radius from the source. The advanced rule (ANPRM) authored by FMCSA was prompted by indications that the current definition of these terms may not be understood or enforced consistently when determining whether the HOS exemption applies.”

The FMCSA says that the current working definition for an ‘agricultural commodity’ is “any agricultural commodity, non-processed food, feed, fiber, or livestock.” The FMCSA points out that defining an agricultural commodity in part as an agricultural commodity is confusing. It also asks for comment on how to determine whether a food is “non-processed.”

The definition of ‘livestock’ set forth by the Emergency Livestock Feed Assistance Act of 1988 includes ‘cattle, elk, reindeer, bison, horses, deer, sheep, goats, swine, poultry (including egg-producing poultry), fish used for food, and other animals designated by the Secretary of Agriculture that are part of a foundation herd (including dairy producing cattle) or offspring; or are purchased as part of a normal operation and not to obtain additional benefits under the Emergency Livestock Feed Assistance Act of 1988, as amended.” A 2018 amendment to the Emergency Livestock Feed Assistance Act of 1988 removed the term “fish used for food” and added in “llamas, alpacas, live fish, crawfish” and removed the Secretary of Agriculture designation.

“FMCSA has worked closely with the agriculture industry and USDA in crafting this advanced notice. We have heard concerns from the industry, and we are acting,” said FMCSA Administrator Raymond P. Martinez. “We encourage all CMV stakeholders, especially those involved in transporting agricultural commodities and livestock, to provide valuable feedback on how the current definitions impact safety, compliance, and enforcement.”

For more information the FMCSA’s request for comment and to learn how you can submit your public comment, click here.

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