ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA, US — US agriculture associations encouraged the US Congress to support the “FARM to TABLE Act” to help create consistent and transparent ag transportation regulations.

The “FARM to TABLE Act” would help make the agricultural exception to the federal hours-of-service rules more widely available by making it available year-round and providing clarity with respect to its application to agricultural products, the National Grain and Feed Association said along with 60 other associations in a June 9 letter.

The associations see the need for an assurance of hours-of-service rules for agricultural haulers since the start of the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

“As COVID-19 clearly has demonstrated, a reliable food and fiber supply chain is critically important to meeting the needs of families across the nation,” the associations said in the letter. “This commonsense legislation will provide relief to agricultural producers and their drivers who have worked tirelessly to feed America during this crisis.”

According to the NGFA, federal law currently provides an exception from federal hours-of-service rules for the transportation of agricultural commodities within a 150-air-mile radius from the source of the commodities during planting and harvesting periods, which are determined by each state. While most states have year-round planting and harvesting periods, 15 have chosen to narrowly define their planting and harvesting seasons.

“These varying regulations create confusion as to what rules a driver is operating under at any given time,” the groups said in the letter. In addition, “the current narrow definitions unnecessarily inhibit industries, such as dairy, livestock and agricultural inputs, which transport their supplies year-round.”

The “FARM to TABLE Act” would clarify agricultural commodity exceptions by eliminating the state-by-state planting and harvesting period definition and by allowing the exception to apply year-round.

The act would also further transparency of the products included within the definition of an “agricultural commodity” covered by the federal hours-of-service rules exception, such as by adding the term feed ingredients to include soybean meal, distillers’ grains and other feed ingredients.

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