Livestock haulers get 90-day waiver from "hours of service" rule

Trucks haul cattle to a Grand Island beef plant (NTV News)

Sen. Deb Fischer announced livestock haulers have been granted a 90-day waiver from federal trucking rules.

Fischer said the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced the decision, which affects the hours someone hauling agricultural goods can be on the road.

It comes a few weeks after Sen. Fischer met with Nebraska ag producers and the Deputy FMCSA Administrator.

Fischer said the waiver will give the agency more time to review the rules, as they relate to agriculture.

Cattlemen have said the regulations need to consider animal welfare, so someone hauling cattle or hogs isn't forced off the road, but can instead get to their destination.

The FMCSA previously issued a 90-day waiver that was set to expire soon. Sen. Fischer welcomed the extension.

In a statement, she said, "It’s good to see the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration be responsive to the concerns raised by Nebraskans following our meeting last month with Deputy Administrator Gautreaux. Nebraskans in agriculture want more flexibility when it comes to these regulations. By issuing this waiver, the agency will have more time to release important guidance for agriculture commodity and livestock haulers."

The meeting with Deputy Administrator Gautreaux, Senator Fischer, and Nebraska ag stakeholders took place on February 13, 2018. Representatives from Nebraska Cattlemen, Nebraska Farm Bureau, Nebraska Pork Producers, and the Livestock Marketing Association attended the meeting.

Steve Nelson of Nebraska Farm Bureau said he was "extremely pleased" with the waiver.

"Agricultural haulers need more flexibility when it comes to these regulations. By issuing this waiver, the agency will be able to define the problem and offer up genuine guidance for agriculture commodity and livestock haulers," Nelson said in a statement.

As the epicenter of the cattle industry, many trucks bring cattle from the coasts to be finished and processed in Nebraska.

"There's a feeding corridor in the central part of the U.S. Cattle make a destination from California to Nebraska and Washington state and we can do the math and a lot of us have driven cross-country and 11 hours doesn't get you where you need to be," Troy Stowater of the Nebraska Cattlemen previously told NTV.

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