These are questions that trucking companies hauling agricultural goods and commodities have long asked: what exactly counts as an agricultural commodity to be transporting where the driver is then exempted from the federal Hours of Service (HOS) regulations and by extension, having to use electronic logging devices (ELDs), and why are some agricultural goods left out? Rep. Austin Scott (R-GA) on Tuesday reintroduced the Agricultural Trucking Relief Act (H.R. 1673) to clarify the definition of "agricultural commodity" to include a broader range of agricultural products.
As the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) now defines "agricultural commodities," the exemption is limited, Rep. Scott argued, making it difficult for carriers transporting these goods to comply with regulations.
For example, horticultural products have been recognized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other federal and state agencies as an agricultural commodity, he pointed out. But horticultural and aquaculture products such as nurseries, sod, turfgrass, freshwater and saltwater aquatic plants, algae and other organisms are not currently included in the "agriculture commodity" definition that FMCSA uses, and those hauling those products don't get to use the exemption.
"H.R. 1673 would more clearly define 'agricultural commodities' as applied to transportation laws, extending regulatory relief for all farm commodities including aquaculture, floriculture and horticulture," Rep. Scott said.
The bill would set an "agricultural commodity" definition for FMCSA to use that clearly includes agricultural, aquacultural, horticultural and floricultural commodities.
Joining Rep. Scott as original co-sponsors of the bill were Reps. Neal Dunn (R-FL), Al Lawson (D-FL) and Kurt Schrader (D-OR). H.R. 1673 is supported by the American Farm Bureau Federation, AmericanHort and the National Assn. of State Departments of Agriculture.