The Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently extended the hours of service waiver to include livestock haulers. A few weeks ago, FMCSA initially suspended the hours of service rule for the transporting of goods that support COVID-19 emergency relief efforts such as food and medical supplies. At the urging of several industry groups such as the National Pork Producers Commission and the Livestock Market Association, the FMCSA issued an Expanded Emergency Declaration on March 18 which expands the original exemption definition.
The Office of the Secretary of Transportation has indicated that the hauling of livestock falls under the definition of “immediate precursor raw materials” that are needed for the production of food, as noted in the emergency declaration. The rest requirements will remain in effect for the duration of emergency declaration, with drivers required to rest a minimum of ten hours once they return to their “normal reporting location.”
The FMCSA exemption will remain in effect until Sunday, April 12, or until the national emergency declared over COVID-19 is lifted. The California exemption will also remain in effect so long as the FMCSA exemption is in place. Livestock haulers are encouraged to print out a copy of the Expanded Emergency Declaration along with a copy of Governor Gavin Newsom’s Executive Order to keep in their cab.
The American Feed Industry Association has raised concern as to whether animal feed will receive the same type of exemptions, noting that the manufacturing, transporting, and selling of animal feed is a vital component for animal health. The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) has indicated that animal feed is a part of critical infrastructure and ensures the continuation of feed transport throughout the state. The department is encouraging those experiencing issues with the transportation of feed products to contact CDFA’s Commercial Feed Regulatory Program.