The Haulers of Agriculture and Livestock Safety Act of 2021, known as the HAULS Act has been reintroduced in Congress. A bipartisan group of senators reintroduced the legislation aimed at providing added flexibility for livestock haulers. The legislation is being supported by groups including the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and American Farm Bureau Federation.
“NCBA has long advocated against one-size-fits-all regulations for the live haul sector, and the COVID-19 pandemic further highlighted the need for flexibility when it comes to livestock hauling.” NCBA Executive Director of Government Affairs Allison Rivera said in a press release. “The HAULS Act represents the best long-term solution — a permanent change to existing hours-of-service regulations that preserves animal welfare as well as safety on our roads, while also making sure producers can keep our grocery stores stocked with beef.”
Senators Deb Fischer, John Tester, Roger Wicker, and Tina Smith highlighted certain federal regulations failing to acknowledge the nature of livestock hauling during the bill’s reintroduction. Current Hours of Service (HOS) rules can be overly restrictive for haulers transporting a unique commodity such as livestock. Haulers are allowed 11 hours of drive time, 14 hours of on-duty time, and a required 10-hour rest period. The stringency of HOS rules does not account for the health and welfare of animals in requiring the 10-hour period of rest.
The HAULS Act seeks to expand the HOS exemption allowances for ag and livestock haulers. It would allow for more flexibility outside of planting and harvesting seasons which can vary from state to state. The legislation would also authorize a 150 air-mile exemption to HOS requirements on the back end of hauls for ag and livestock haulers. Additionally, the HAULS Act would amend the definition of “agricultural commodities” within the HOS rules. The definition would be expanded to include products that have been covered in some of the HOS waivers issued during the COVID-19 pandemic.