U.S. House OKs permanent agricultural exemption

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The U. S. House of Representatives passed an amendment Thursday that would make permanent the agricultural exemption to the federal hours of service regulations.

The amendment to the $284 billion highway-spending bill also provides a comprehensive definition of agricultural commodities, to eliminate confusion about what hauls are exempt.

“We look forward to working with the U. S. Senate to include this language in its version of the highway bill,” said Fletcher Hall, executive director of the Agricultural and Food Transporters Conference of the American Trucking Associations.

The amendment was offered by U.S. Rep. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., and was attached to H.R. 3, the Highway Reauthorization Bill, by a 257-167 vote.

The entire bill, including the amendment, then passed the House overwhelmingly, by a vote of 417-9.

The amendment ensures that such items as livestock, milk, poultry and poultry feed are included in the definition of agricultural commodities and prevents the U.S. secretary of transportation from modifying or revoking the agricultural exemption without the approval of Congress.

The Senate starts work on its own highway spending bill next week.