FMCSA looks to firm up definition on ag commodities for HOS exemptions

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Updated May 23, 2019
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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has filed a “pre-rule,” also known as an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking, with the White House’s Office of Management and Budget that will seek industry input for defining who is allowed to run under exemptions granted to truckers hauling agriculture commodities.

The ANPRM won’t be a proposal for any specific reforms, but rather a solicitation for comments from industry stakeholders about the definition of an agricultural commodity, according to the ANPRM’s excerpt in the federal rulemaking docket.

Drivers hauling ag commodities operate under certain hours of service exemptions, such as the 150-air-mile radius exemption that allows drivers carrying ag commodities to skip recording duty status if they stay within a 150-air-mile radius of the source of the commodity, among others.

Currently, the agency defines ag commodities as “any agricultural commodity, nonprocessed food, feed, fiber, or livestock,” but that definition could change should the agency proceed with the rulemaking process after it solicits feedback with the ANPRM.

The agency’s pre-rule related to defining ag haulers is separate from, and in addition to, the agency’s looming proposal to overhaul hours of service regulations for the entirety of the industry. That proposal has also been filed to the OMB and is awaiting approval. Once approved by OMB, the proposed rule can be published by FMCSA, and industry stakeholders will have a window to file public comments on it.