FMCSA Issues Final Ruling On Hours Of Service Exemption

The Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) applauds the Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) for issuing a final rule on the Hours of Service agricultural exemption prior to spring planting. The rule was published in the March 14 Federal Register and is a provision of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) Act. ARA also appreciates the leadership of Congressmen Sam Graves (R-MO) and Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO) on this issue who were very instrumental in encouraging the advancement of this rule.

The rule amends federal regulations to the statutory exemptions provided under sections 32101 and 32934 of MAP-21 that are applicable to certain drivers transporting agricultural commodities. States are to adopt compatible regulations as soon as possible after the effective date of this Final Rule (March 14, 2013), but no later than three years from the rule’s effective date.

This action follows a Federal Register notice from FMCSA alerting motor carriers and enforcement officials of the two statutory exemptions in MAP-21. Specifically, section 32101 provided a statutory exemption from the hours-of-service regulations for certain carriers transporting agricultural commodities and farm supplies, and section 32934 provided a statutory exemption from most of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) for the operation of covered farm vehicles by farm and ranch operators, their employees, and other individuals under certain specific circumstances. These statutory provisions were self-executing and took effect on October 1, 2012.

The Final Rule is currently on display at the Federal Register and may be viewed here. A questions and answers document on the rule is available here. ARA is pleased with FMSCA’s decision to expedite the implementation of this final rule which enables agricultural retailers and distributors to get crop inputs to farmers in an efficient manor prior to planting season when timing is critical. Questions regarding the final rule may be directed to Richard Gupton in the ARA office.

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