ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA, U.S. — The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) said it is urging Congress to enact a bill that would relieve trucks involved in hauling agricultural products from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s costly electronic logging device (ELD) mandate.
Representatives Collin Peterson, D-Minnesota, and Greg Gianforte, R-Montana, introduced the Agricultural Business Electronic Logging Device Exemption Act of 2018, which would completely exempt agricultural businesses from the ELD mandate. The mandate requires commercial drivers who prepare hours-of-service records to connect an electronic logging device to a vehicle’s engine to record driving hours. The bill would provide truck drivers hauling agricultural products the option to use paper logs or electronic logging devices to comply with the hours-of-service regulations.
“This legislation would eliminate costly and impractical regulations for agricultural shippers reliant upon truck transportation,” said Max Fisher, director of economics and government relations at the NGFA. “The NGFA believes the ELD rule is unnecessary for this segment of the trucking industry, and will provide no new safety, economic, or productivity benefits. If farmers and agricultural shippers are not relieved from the ELD rule, its implementation will add to freight costs and make U.S. agricultural products less competitive in the highly competitive global market in which it operates.”
The current exemption for drivers hauling agricultural commodities expired on June 18. Livestock and insect haulers have an extended exemption — through Sept. 30, 2018 — that was included in the spending package signed into law earlier this year. However, drivers hauling non-livestock agricultural commodities are required to begin using an ELD by June 19.
NGFA urged U.S. DOT to delay implementation and ultimately revoke the ELD rule for agricultural truckers in a statement submitted to the agency on Dec. 1. In its statement, the NGFA noted how vitally important truck transportation is to the movement of grain, feed and feed ingredients, transporting approximately 20 million truckloads from field-to-storage and often at least one more time before arriving at the destination.
U.S. DOT estimates the average ELD cost per truck at $785 per year. Unneeded regulatory costs such as this add up and increase transportation costs, NGFA noted, and place additional burdens on an industry already struggling with driver shortages and other regulatory challenges.