Fifty agricultural organizations including NAWG wrote Congressional agriculture and transportation leaders this week expressing support for the agricultural hours-of-service (ag HOS) exemption.
The groups urged lawmakers to keep the ag HOS exemption during an upcoming reauthorization of transportation policy. A 2005 law that expires this year exempted agricultural carriers from the hours-of-service regulations if they operated only within a 100-mile radius from their central bases of operation. The exemption has recently been under attack by road safety groups.
The ag groups wrote, in part:
“[O]ur organizations have been concerned by recent calls for repeal of the ag HOS exemption by those citing trucking safety issues in the agricultural industry. On behalf of the agricultural producers in this country, we want to set the record straight on this issue and pledge our assistance to ensure that this exemption be maintained with the highest possible regard to safety…
“In truth, there are no known safety issues related to the ag HOS exemption. Further, each state has the authority to modify or eliminate the exemption in the event that safety issues are identified… The agriculture industry is dedicated to educating its members about the importance of safety, particularly during planting and harvesting. Truck safety is a very important component of these educational campaigns…”
The flexibility provided by the ag HOS exemption is an important priority for NAWG in the transportation reauthorization process. Elimination of this exemption would not only increase agricultural operating costs and reduce transportation efficiency, but it may also create safety issues during harvest and planting seasons if producers are required to hire more temporary and possibly less seasoned drivers.
The full letter from the groups and a briefer on the ag HOS exemption are accessible at www.wheatworld.org/issues/transportation.