A bipartisan group of 24 senators today filed an amendment to the farm bill that would provide an hours of service exemption for certain agriculture transporters, including livestock haulers, which would provide greater flexibility to operators throughout the country.
The amendment, led by U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee and a longtime member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee, and Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Commerce Committee and Senate Agriculture Committee, would ensure that the exemption for operations within a 150 air-mile radius from the source of an agricultural commodity applies year-round and does not vary from one state to another for certain months of the year. The exemption currently applies to the planting and harvesting period, as determined by each state. It would also provide an additional 150 air-mile exemption on the back end of a trip, as it currently exists on the front end.
“This proposal takes into consideration the unique and often challenging requirements that exist in the agriculture community, particularly the hurdles of getting products from one location to another in a safe and timely manner,” said Thune. “As a member of both relevant committees, I’m glad that we were able to work together to craft this additional flexibility for producers throughout South Dakota. It’s a good, common-sense amendment, and I hope it’s adopted without delay.”
“This is a reasonable approach that should provide some relief for farmers and ranchers who worry about getting their livestock safely to market,” said Nelson.
“In Nebraska, ag commodity and livestock haulers are concerned,” said Fischer. “They know how difficult and stressful it would be to stop midway through a haul and unload livestock. That’s why I’m introducing this bipartisan amendment today with Senators Thune and Nelson that builds on my past efforts bringing further flexibility to hours of service rules for our ag and livestock haulers.”
U.S. Sens. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) joined Thune, Nelson, and Fischer on the measure.
The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Pork Producers Council, Livestock Marketing Association, American Farm Bureau Federation, American Horse Council, American Honey Producers, American Sheep Industry Association, National Aquaculture Association, and Bee Federation all support the amendment.