The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently sent out a request for comments on how to define “agricultural commodity” as it relates to truck driver hours of service (HOS). FMCSA wants to gather public opinion on this matter before they execute on pending plans that will allow farmers and truckers to have increased flexibility.
The FMCSA explains that “currently, during harvesting and planting seasons as determined by each state, drivers transporting agricultural commodities, including livestock, are exempt from the HOS requirements from the source of the commodities to a location within a 150-air-mile radius from the source. The advanced notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) authored by FMCSA was prompted by indications that the current definition of these terms may not be understood or enforced consistently when determining whether the HOS exemption applies.”
The current working definition for an ‘agricultural commodity’ is “any agricultural commodity, non-processed food, feed, fiber, or livestock.” The FMCSA feels that partly using ‘agricultural commodity’ to define ‘agricultural commodity’ is just plain confusing.
The FMCSA also wants to hear from the public on how to determine if a particular food is ‘non-processed.’
“[The] FMCSA has worked closely with the agriculture industry and USDA in crafting this advanced notice. We have heard concerns from the industry, and we are acting,” said FMCSA Administrator, Raymond P. Martinez. “We encourage all CMV stakeholders, especially those involved in transporting agricultural commodities and livestock, to provide valuable feedback on how the current definitions impact safety, compliance, and enforcement.”