The agricultural industry may be one step closer to having the opportunity to make recommendations on transporting livestock and other agricultural commodities.

North Dakota Senator John Hoeven and Colorado Senator Michael Bennet recently reintroduced the Modernizing Agricultural Transportation Act, which would reform the Hours of Service (HOS) and Electronic Logging Device (ELD) regulations and would delay enforcement of the ELD rule until reforms are proposed by the Secretary of Transportation.

Following the reintroduction of the act, Mississippi Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee,  announced her support for legislation to give farmers and ranchers a greater voice in setting policies on transporting livestock and agriculture commodities. Hyde-Smith served as an original cosponsor of the act (S.600).

“The goal of this legislation is to allow the agricultural sector to make real-world, commonsense recommendations on shipping livestock and commodities safely,” Hyde-Smith said. “I believe this working group will result in greater flexibility and fewer federal regulatory burdens on farmers and ranchers.”

The Modernizing Agricultural Transportation Act would give the working group a year to make recommendations on improving the transportation of agriculture commodities, including livestock and insects. Made up of representatives from transportation and agriculture industries, transportation safety advocates, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the group would be required to:

  • Consider problems with existing HOS and ELD rules administered by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
  • Propose initiatives and regulatory changes to protect highway safety and allow for the safe, efficient and productive marketplace transport of agricultural commodities.

Within 120 days of receiving the working group’s report, the Transportation Secretary must propose HOS and ELD regulatory changes, taking into account the recommendations of the working group. The bill would also delay enforcement of the ELD rule until the required reforms are formally proposed by the Transportation Secretary.

“We appreciate Senator Hyde-Smith being an advocate for our farmers and ranchers,” Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation President Mike McCormick said. “Transporting livestock and other commodities is of vital importance to farmers and ranchers across Mississippi. If they can’t get their products to market, they can’t get paid.”

The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. The text of the legislation is available here.