The DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) that the hours of service (HOS) rule for transporting anhydrous ammonia would be waived for the 2010 planting season. The Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) has been awaiting a decision by FMCSA regarding the movement of farm supplies from a terminal to farm supply dealer and whether it is covered under the HOS agricultural exemption.
ARA and several other national trade organizations (TFI, NCFC, AFTC) have been working closely with the Congressmen Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO) and Sam Graves (R-MO), trying to convince FMCSA that their narrow interpretation is contrary to the legislative history and Congressional intent as well as long standing industry practice. A negative decision by FMCSA would adversely impact the delivery of farm supplies as this year’s spring planting season begins.
In the past several months, ARA has met with representatives from FMCSA, USDA and Congressional Members and their staff to inform them of the importance and urgency of the misinterpretation of the exemption. With the support of nearly a dozen Members of Congress, the office of USDA Secretary Vilsak and communication and understanding from Secretary LaHood, ARA was able to get a 90-day waiver from the HOS exemption rules, effective upon notice in the Federal Register. In DOT’s letter to Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO) they stated that “Our recent re-examination of the issue has made it clear that the exclusive emphasis of the Agency’s guidance on deliveries from local retailers to the ultimate farm consumer may not reflect economic reality.”
This 90-day waiver only applies to carriers delivering anhydrous ammonia, with the original interpretation of the exemption still applying to other input products. ARA commends DOT for making this decision to allow for movement of anhydrous ammonia from terminal to retailer during the 2010 planting season, but also recommend that transportation of all farm supplies from the terminal to the retailer should be exempted under the current rule. We will continue to work with DOT to get movement of all farm supplies along the supply chain exempt from the HOS rule during planting and harvest season, as Congress originally intended.
To access the letter from FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro to Congressman Luetkemeyer, as well as other correspondence on the issue, click here. To access the FMCSA general notice click here and visit Congressman Luetkemeyer’s Web site for additional information. If you have questions on the ag exemption to the HOS rule or on the DOT waiver please contact ARA at 202-457-0825 or e-mail Jon@aradc.org.