Lawmakers Work to Help Haulers


By Raylene Nickel, Successful Farming - 3/13/2019


Recent legislation introduced to the U.S. Senate could pave the way to a smoother road for agricultural haulers. The Modernizing Agriculture Transportation Act (MATA) would work to improve the transport of agricultural commodities through reforming the hours of service (HOS) and electronic logging device (ELD) regulations.


Addressing her constituents, cosponsor of the bill Joni Ernst (R-IA) said in a press release from her office: “Iowa farmers and producers need flexibility to get their commodities to market in an efficient and timely way. By bringing those most impacted by these regulations to the table, our bipartisan proposal is aimed at ensuring our roads stay safe, while making sensible reforms to transportation regulations.”


Ernst joined Senator John Hoeven (R-ND) and Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) in introducing the MATA to the Senate.


Creation of a Working Group


At the heart of the proposed legislation is the formation of a working group charged with identifying obstacles to the “safe, humane, and market-efficient transport of livestock, insects, and other perishable agricultural commodities,” says a summary of the MATA released by Senator Hoeven’s office.


The group would also develop guidelines and recommended regulatory or legislative action to improve the transportation of these commodities. It would be made up of members of a cross-section of the transportation and agricultural communities at the discretion of the secretary of transportation. Members would include representatives from the Department of Agriculture and “individuals with knowledge and expertise” in areas of highway safety; commercial motor vehicle and transportation industries; animal husbandry; and the transportation of livestock, insects, and agricultural commodities.


“The establishment of the working group gives us a seat at the table; we’ve never had one relating to HOS and ELDs,” says Steve Hilker, owner of a livestock-hauling firm at Cimarron, Kansas, and chairman of the transportation committee of the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association (USCA).


The USCA supports the Modernizing Agriculture Transportation Act and so does the National Pork Producers Council, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the Livestock Marketing Association, the American Farm Bureau Federation, the American Honey Producers Association, and the Rocky Mountain Farmer’s Union.


Winning “a seat at the table” relating to regulations affecting the transport of livestock and other perishable agricultural commodities has taken time and hard work. Hilker was among those who four years ago began annual trips to Washington, D.C., to speak with lawmakers about regulations relating to HOS and ELDs.


Reworking the HOS Regulations ...