Many of the ideas contained in the bill were first proposed by Nebraska Cattlemen’s Transportation Task Force, a group consisting of several of the largest livestock transportation companies in the state. The group identified a variety of solutions in the wake of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s electronic logging device (ELD) enforcement date, which revealed incompatibilities between federal HOS regulations and livestock haulers.
“Nebraska Cattlemen is extremely appreciative of Senator Sasse’s hard work on behalf of our industry and greatly welcomes this legislation. Hauling livestock is very different than hauling any other commodity. Senator Sasse’s bill helps fill the gaps that exist between federal regulation, public safety, the needs of producers, and the well-being of the animals under our care,” said Galen Frenzen, President of Nebraska Cattlemen.
The impending ELD mandate and existing HOS regulations pose significant consequences for the livestock industry. Nebraska plays an integral part in the beef production chain, which includes diversified farms and ranches that span the entire United States.
Current federal law limits haulers to a maximum driving time of 11 consecutive hours in a 14 hour on duty window. This is not enough drive time to support the inherent dynamics of a centrally-located, top cattle-feeding state like Nebraska that receives feeder cattle from locations well over 11 hours away.
Most importantly, HOS regulations pose significant animal welfare concerns. Once a driver hits the maximum hour allotment, he or she must stop and rest for 10 consecutive hours before returning to duty. Stopping the vehicle for an extended period of time, particularly during summer months when high temperatures and humidity pose dire risks for cattle, is simply not an option.
As a result, drivers who reach driving-time limits while hauling livestock will face a difficult decision: compliance with animal welfare laws and guidelines or compliance with federal HOS regulations.
Senator Sasse’s Transporting Livestock Across America Safely Act would change federal law to accomplish the following:
- 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 the 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.
- 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 of a 15-hour drive time).
Senator Sasse was joined by a coalition of bipartisan senators in introducing this legislation, including Senators Joni Ernst (R-IA), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), John Hoeven (R-ND), Doug Jones (D-AL), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Rand Paul (R-KY), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Tina Smith (D-MN), and Jon Tester (D-MT).