The U.S. Senate introduced legislation aimed at reforming federal Hours of Service (HOS) rules in a way that ensures animal welfare, highway safety, and the well-being of livestock haulers. S. 1255, the Transporting Livestock Across America Safely Act, was introduced by Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) with a bipartisan group of original cosponsors, including Senators Deb Fischer (R-NE), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Jim Risch (R-ID), Steve Daines (R-MT), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Jon Tester (D-MT), Tina Smith (D-MN), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Doug Jones (D-AL), John Hoeven (R-ND), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Mike Braun (R-IN), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Joni Ernst (R-IA), and James Lankford (R-OK).
“The current Hours of Service rules for livestock haulers present major challenges for our industry and can often jeopardize the health and well-being of livestock,” said Colin Woodall, NCBA’s senior vice president of government affairs. “Hauling livestock is inherently different than hauling typical consumer goods, like paper towels or bottles of water. Live cattle cannot simply be left unattended in a trailer — especially in very hot or cold weather — for extended periods of time. This bill recognizes the unique needs of livestock haulers, and we are grateful for the continued support of Senator Sasse and the other co-sponsors.”
NCBA helped secure a delay from the implementation of Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) for livestock haulers until September 30, 2019. However, the need for a long-term fix and increased flexibility for livestock haulers remains. In addition to working with allies on Capitol Hill, NCBA submitted a petition to the Department of Transportation (DOT) requesting changes to the HOS rules for livestock haulers.
The summary of S. 1255, the Transporting Livestock Across America Safely Act, is as follows:
- Provides that HOS and ELD requirements are inapplicable until after a driver travels more than 300-air miles from their source. Drive time for HOS purposes does not start until after 300-air mile threshold.
- Exempts loading and unloading times from the HOS calculation of driving time.
- Extends the HOS on-duty time maximum hour requirement from 11 hours to a minimum of 15 hours and a maximum of 18 hours of on-duty time.
- Grants flexibility for drivers to rest at any point during their trip without counting against HOS time.
- Allows drivers to complete their trip — regardless of HOS requirements — if they come within 150-air miles of their delivery point.
- Ensures that, after the driver completes their delivery and the truck is unloaded, the driver will take a break for a period that is 5 hours less than the maximum on-duty time (10 hours if a 15-hour drive time).