A bipartisan group of senators introduced a bill Wednesday (May 23) to modify provisions regarding livestock transportation.
What's the issue?
Rigid Department of Transportation regulations, known as Hours of Service, pose serious challenges for livestock haulers and jeopardize animal welfare. Livestock haulers are scheduled to have to start using Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) to track their compliance with Hours of Service on Oct. 1, 2018. Under current rules, they would be required to turn on their ELDs after crossing out of the 150-air-mile radius from their loading point, after which they can only drive for 11 hours before taking a mandatory 10-hour break.
Who introduced the bill?
The bill was introduced by U.S. Sens. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Jerry Moran of Kansas, John Hoeven of North Dakota, Jon Tester of Montana, Joni Ernst of Iowa, Marco Rubio of Florida, Tina Smith of Minnesota, Pat Roberts of Kansas, and Rand Paul of Kentucky.
Why does it matter?
A mandatory 10-hour break would be harmless for most cargo. But it's a different story for live animals. Leaving cattle in a trailer on the side of the road - particularly in severe weather conditions - can harm their well-being. Unloading and reloading is often not possible, either. Besides the stress loading causes on animals, frequent stops present a serious biosecurity hazard.
The bill introduced yesterday provides for more drive time for livestock haulers. It also grants drivers with the flexibility to rest at any point during the trip without the break counting against Hours of Service time. The goal is for Congress to pass the bill before ELD enforcement begins on Oct. 1, 2018.
What others are saying?
“Given the unique nature of livestock hauling – often very long distances between cow-calf operations and feedlots or processing facilities – and the fact that we’re transporting live animals that must be treated humanely – this legislation is vitally important." - NCBA President Kevin Kester, in an NCBA press release.
"Our ranchers and haulers are professionals who make the well-being of livestock their top priority and that includes safe transportation. The Department of Transportation’s current regulations endanger livestock during hot summers and cold winters." – Sen. Sasse in an official statement.
Source: National Cattlemen’s Beef Association