Ag gets waiver from hours of service rule

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — America’s hog, cattle and poultry farmers have been granted a two-year waiver from the U.S. Department of Transportation hours-of-service rule for certain drivers.

The rule, issued in mid-2013 by DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), requires truck drivers to take a 30-minute rest break for every eight hours of service.

It would have prohibited drivers hauling livestock and poultry from caring for animals during the rest period.
The National Pork Producers Council, on behalf of other livestock, poultry and food organizations, in 2013 petitioned the FMCSA for a waiver and exemption from complying with the regulation.

The groups this spring asked the FMCSA to renew the waiver and to extend it for the two-year maximum allowable under federal law.

Cause harm

In petitioning the agency, the livestock organizations noted that the rule would cause livestock producers and their drivers irreparable harm, place the health and welfare of the livestock in their care at risk and provide no apparent increased benefit to public safety — and likely decrease public safety — while forcing the livestock industry and its drivers to choose between the humane handling of animals or complying with the rule.

The groups also pointed out that the livestock and poultry industries have programs — developed and offered through the U.S. Department of Agriculture — that educate drivers on transportation safety and animal welfare.
The pork industry, for example, has the Transport Quality Assurance program.

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