WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) helped lead a call to delay the implementation of electronic logging devices for transporters carrying livestock and insects Tuesday.
Moran and U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) led a bipartisan group of colleagues in support of the delay. The senators crafted a letter, sent to Senate leaders, which supports a provision in the U.S. House-passed Transportation, Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill delaying implementation of ELDs and providing the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association time to make the necessary adjustments to hours of service rules to address animal welfare concerns.
“Our state’s agricultural economy and rural jobs rely on the ability to transport livestock, particularly cattle, from across the country to Kansas,” Moran said. “Requiring electronic logging devices without providing additional flexibility to the hours of services rules for livestock haulers has the potential to harm not only the industry, but also the welfare of the animals they carry.
“I am pleased to lead a bipartisan group of my Senate colleagues in calling for a delay in the ELD mandate for livestock haulers so they are able to continue to ensure motorist safety while also delivering livestock in a timely and humane manner.”
ELDs synchronize with the engine of a tractor-trailer to automatically keep track of driving hours, without drivers needing to maintain a logbook. A mandate requiring truck fleets to have ELDs installed goes into effect December 18, but the group led by Moran and Heitkamp is calling for a delay to that date, specifically for livestock and insect transport vehicles.
The supporting senators believe the delay will allow the FMCSA time to make adjustments to the hours of service rules — which outline time drivers can be on the road and more — to accommodate transporters of livestock and insects.
In their letter, the senators state that FMCSA approved a 90-day waiver for compliance for agricultural transporters, but it does not provide any assurances of relief beyond the 90-day period.
The senators also state in their letter that “Long distance transportation is often the most stressful event in a livestock animal’s life and it is impractical and inhumane to stop, offload multiples times, or significantly delay delivery of these animals. This issue is even more prevalent in areas where extreme weather can cause severe traffic delays that limit the time it can take to transport these animals to their destination.”
Others who signed the letter include U.S. Senators John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.) and James Lankford (R-Okla.).
— Chance Hoener is a staff writer for the Morning Sun. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @ReporterChance.