Senator introduces bill to relax HOS requirements for ag & livestock haulers

Lawmakers are considering a bill meant to ease regulatory requirements for truck drivers who are hauling agricultural products and livestock.

The Haulers of Agriculture and Livestock Safety (HAULS) Act was recently reintroduced by Nebraska Senator Deb Fischer.

According to a March 17 news release from Fischer’s office, the Hauls Act would:

  1. Eliminate the requirement that ag and livestock hours-of-service (HOS) exemptions only apply during state designated planting and harvesting seasons
  2. Amend and clarify the definition of “agricultural commodities” based on feedback provided by agriculture and livestock organizations
  3. Authorize a 150 air-mile exemption from HOS requirements on the destination side of a haul for ag and livestock haulers

“Nebraska’s ag and livestock haulers provide a critical service transporting food and fuel across the nation. However, certain federal regulations fail to account for the unique circumstances involved in moving their products.The HAULS Act builds on my previous work to help our haulers transport their critical goods safely and efficiently,” Fischer said.

The HAULS Act was initially introduced last year but failed to advance.

Several agriculture and livestock trade groups praised the reintroduction of the Hauls Act.

“Nebraska plays an integral role in the U.S. beef production chain as a leading state for commercial cattle slaughter, all cattle on feed, commercial red meat production, and livestock cash receipts. Unfortunately, current federal regulations fail to account for the intricacies involved with hauling live animals. The HAULS Act would help mitigate situations where a hauler is forced to choose between compliance with federal law or the health and welfare of the livestock on board. Nebraska Cattlemen sincerely thanks Senator Deb Fischer for her commitment to delivering needed regulatory flexibility for livestock haulers by helping facilitate longer hauls that are inherent to cattle production in our state,” said William H. Rhea III, President of Nebraska Cattlemen.

“We thank Sen. Fischer for reintroducing the HAULS Act to provide much needed regulatory relief to our nation’s farmers, ranchers, and agriculture haulers. The efficient transport of livestock is critical to the agriculture sector and to the welfare of our livestock animals. Sen. Fischer has been a long-time champion of common-sense approaches to transportation rules and regulations. The HAULS Act reflects this common-sense approach by updating oversight of livestock transport to provide flexibility and better reflect the unique challenges that exist in hauling live animals. We stand ready to work with Sen. Fischer to enact this important legislation,” said Mark McHargue, President of the Nebraska Farm Bureau.

The bill has been referred to a committee for consideration.