US federal law currently provides an exception from federal hours-of-service rules for the transportation of agri-commodities within a 150-air-mile radius from the source of the commodities during planting and harvesting periods, which are determined by each state, said the NGFA.
While most states have year-round planting and harvesting periods, 15 have chosen to narrowly define their planting and harvesting seasons, it added.
“These varying regulations create confusion as to what rules a driver is operating under at any given time,” the groups said. In addition, “the current narrow definitions unnecessarily inhibit industries, such as dairy, livestock and agricultural inputs, which transport their supplies year-round.”
The FARM to TABLE Act, introduced by US Congressman John Joyce, would simplify the exception for agricultural commodities by eliminating the state-by-state planting and harvesting period definition and by allowing the exception to apply year-round, said the NGFA.
A spokesperson for the NGFA told FeedNavigator: “The agricultural exception to the federal hours-of-service rules provides agricultural haulers flexibility during times of peak demand or during other extenuating circumstances.
“For feed distribution, peak demand and extenuating circumstances often occur during the winter when temperatures are colder and driving conditions are more adverse. The agricultural exception is unavailable during portions of the winter for the 15 states that have chosen to narrowly define their planting and harvesting seasons, whereas, the exception is available year-round in the other 35 states.
“The FARM to TABLE Act would allow agricultural haulers to utilize the agricultural exception regardless of their respective state’s defined planting and harvesting seasons.”
Furthermore, the bill also would provide greater clarity of the products included within the definition of an agricultural commodity covered by the federal hours-of-service rules exception, such as by adding the term feed ingredients to include soybean meal, distillers grains and other feed ingredients, it explained.
Such legislation would provide relief to agricultural producers and their drivers, stressed the organizations in the letter.