Four agriculture groups on Thursday, Oct. 27, voiced their support for legislation that would clarify transportation regulations that are critical to the agricultural sector’s ability to distribute farm supplies expeditiously. U.S. Reps. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) and Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.), along with 38 additional congressional co-sponsors, introduced the legislation intended to resolve questions regarding the applicability of the agricultural hours-of-service exemption.
The exemption came into question in 2009 when the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued an interpretation of the regulations that resulted in transportation restrictions for certain farm supplies. The legislation introduced this week by Graves and Luetkemeyer amends aspects of the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act, which served as the basis for FMCSA’s 2009 interpretation, to clarify the applicability of exemptions for agricultural products.
“When I visit with agricultural retailers across the country, one of the top issues they bring up as a threat to their business is the hours-of-service issue,” says Daren Coppock, president and chief executive officer of the Agricultural Retailers Association. “We appreciate the efforts of Congressmen Graves and Luetkemeyer on this issue so that agricultural retailers are able to serve the needs of farmers during the busy planting and harvest seasons.”
“The agricultural exemption to the HOS rule is a crucial tool for transporters of agricultural products during the busiest times of the year,” says Rick Yost, chairman of the Agricultural and Food Transporters Conference of the American Trucking Associations. “We commend the work of Congressmen Luetkemeyer and Graves, and the other co-sponsors, for their work on this very important legislation.”
The legislation clarifies that the agricultural hours-of-service exemption is applicable to:
• Drivers transporting agricultural commodities within a 100 air-mile radius;
• Drivers transporting farm supplies for agricultural purposes from a wholesale or retail business to a farm or other location where the farm supplies are intended to be used within a 100 air-mile radius from the distribution point; or
• Drivers transporting farm supplies from a wholesale location to a retail location so long as the transportation is within a 100 air-mile radius.
“This legislation will ensure that farmer co-ops can continue to provide their producer-owners and other customers with farm supplies in a timely and efficient manner,” says Chuck Conner, president and CEO of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives. “We appreciate the efforts of Representatives Luetkemeyer and Graves, and other members of Congress, to permanently resolve this issue.”
“TFI commends Congressman Graves and Luetkemeyer, along with the other co-sponsors of this legislation, for taking the steps necessary to ensure that the agricultural community has access to the crop nutrients and farm supplies necessary to produce safe, healthy and abundant crops,” says Ford West, president of The Fertilizer Institute.