The Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA), the Agricultural and Food Transporters Conference (AFTC) of the American Trucking Associations, the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC) and The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) voiced their support for legislation that would clarify transportation regulations that are critical to the agricultural sector’s ability to expeditiously distribute farm supplies. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) introduced the legislation intended to resolve questions regarding the applicability of the agricultural hours of service exemption.
The exemption came into question in 2009 when the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued an interpretation of the regulations that resulted in transportation restrictions for certain farm supplies. The legislation introduced this week amends aspects of the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act, which served as the basis for FMCSA’s 2009 interpretation, to clarify the applicability of exemptions for agricultural products. Identical legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives in October by Representatives Sam Graves (R-Mo.) and Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.).
“When I visit with agricultural retailers across the country, one of the top issues they bring up as a threat to their business is the Hours of Service issue,” said ARA President & CEO Daren Coppock. “We are pleased to see Senators Klobuchar and Roberts introduce the Senate Bill. This legislation helps ensure that agricultural retailers are able to serve the needs of farmers during the busy planting and harvest seasons.”
AFTC Chairman John Wittington added:”The timely transportation of agricultural products during the busiest times of the year is of the utmost importance for our members and their customers and applaud Senators Klobuchar and Roberts for introducing the Senate companion to the House bill. This language will provide us with the flexibility to ensure those products are delivered on time.”
Specifically, the legislation clarifies that the agricultural hours of service exemption is applicable to:
- Drivers transporting agricultural commodities within a 100 air-mile radius;
- Drivers transporting farm supplies for agricultural purposes from a wholesale or retail business to a farm or other location where the farm supplies are intended to be used within a 100 air-mile radius from the distribution point; or
- Drivers transporting farm supplies from a wholesale location to a retail location so long as the transportation is within a 100 air-mile radius.
“This legislation will ensure that farmer co-ops can continue to meet the farm supply needs of their farmer-owners during the busiest times of the year in agriculture,” said NCFC President & CEO of Chuck Conner. “We appreciate the leadership of Senators Klobuchar and Roberts in seeking to permanently resolve this issue.”
TFI President Ford B. West also weighed in the critical issue. “TFI commends Sen. Klobuchar and Sen. Roberts for recognizing the importance of this issue to the agricultural community by introducing this legislation in the Senate,” he said.