A group representing sod farmers around the United States is petitioning the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to include sod grass as an “agricultural commodity” in the federal hours of service regulations.
Currently, drivers hauling ag commodities operate under certain HOS 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.
Turfgrass Producers International (TPI) says its sod-producing members are concerned that sod is not included in the definition of an ag commodity. The group says turfgrass sod is recognized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a perishable agricultural commodity and is planted and harvested annually.
The group says sod is cultivated and managed with similar techniques as other crops, and once it is harvested, it is also subject to perishing in transport. TPI says it “often loses its color, moisture and vigor due to transport shock and can die if palleted too long.”
TPI says without the hours exemptions for haulers of ag commodities, haulers will see a decrease in the amount of product they can ship and an increase in the amount of product that either perishes in transport or is damaged in transport. If granted, TPI estimates the exemption would cover between 2,400 and 10,428 drivers.
Those interested can comment on the request here through July 19.