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HOS exemption extended for haulers

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 The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) has issued another extension to the emergency declaration extending hours of service (HOS) for livestock and livestock feed haulers until Dec. 31, 2020. According to FMCSA Emergency Declaration 2020-002, motor carriers providing direct assistance in support of relief efforts related to the COVID-19 pandemic are granted exemptions specific to parts 390 through 399 of Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations. 

The exemption also applies to medical supplies and equipment related to the testing, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19, supplies such as masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, soap and disinfectants necessary for prevention of community transmission of COVID-19 and food, paper products and other groceries necessary for emergency restocking of stores and distribution centers. 

“FMCSA is continuing the exemption because the presidentially declared national emergency remains in place and because a continued exemption is needed to support direct emergency assistance for some supply chains,” stated the FMCSA extension order. “This extension addresses national emergency conditions that create a need for immediate transportation of essential supplies and provides necessary relief from the FMCSA regulations for motor carriers and drivers.” 

Slack for livestock 

“We were pleased to hear FMCSA will be extending the emergency declaration on HOS for livestock haulers and livestock feed,” said National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Executive Director of Governmental Affairs Allison Rivera. “This is very helpful for our haulers as we make sure we are moving livestock and the end goal is met, which is to get product onto grocery store shelves.” 

The HOS exemption originated at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March. Livestock and livestock feed were added to the emergency declaration July 13, which has been extended in 30-day increments. The most recent extension was set to expire Sept. 14. 

“We have been having conversations with FMCSA about every 30 days asking for an extension to this emergency declaration,” Rivera noted. “We gave them the facts about where we are as an industry, how our livestock are moving and where we have backlogs.” 

“The best thing about this declaration is if we have a hauler who ends up at a feedyard or packing facility and, for some reason, is unable to unload those animals, they are able to pivot and move those animals to a location that will accept them,” said Rivera. 

“We continue to tell FMCSA we are very grateful for this emergency declaration because it allows us to have the flexibility we need so the markets can run smoothly, we can move animals where we need to and have the flexibility to pivot when we need to,” Rivera continues.

Continued flexibility

NCBA has been working with FMCSA on the continued need for HOS flexibility for livestock haulers, according to Rivera. 

“Many of the conversations we have with FMSCA about the need for flexibility involve examples of producers and haulers out of the southeast and places like California, where there have been other difficulties such as wildfires,” said Rivera. 

Rivera shared producers around the country understand the need for HOS and pivot flexibility. Especially in the southeast and northwest, producers are far from many feedyards, and packing facilities are located mostly in the Midwest.  

“We continue to ask for permanent flexibilities for livestock haulers for this very reason,” Rivera said. “As we continue to ask for flexibility through this emergency declaration with HOS, we continue to talk about the fact that we want to make sure there is no backlog.”  

“We are very appreciative of FMCSA for this flexibility,” said Rivera. “Right now we have the flexibility until midnight on Dec. 31, 2020. We will continue to have conversations with FMCSA and see what we can get in 2021.” 

Averi Hales is the editor for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to roundup@wylr.net.

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