The second agriculture exemption extension for the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate is being applauded by several industry groups. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Elaine Chao recently announced an additional 90-day temporary waiver for agriculture-related transportation.
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue issued a statement regarding his support for the decision. “The ELD mandate imposes restrictions upon the agriculture industry that lack flexibility necessary for the unique realities of hauling agriculture commodities. If the agriculture industry had been forced to comply by the March 18 deadline, live agricultural commodities, including plants and animals, would have been at risk of perishing before they reached their destination.”
The ELD mandate initially went into effect in December 2017. The original extension period issued by DOT did not require the agriculture industry to comply until March 18 of this year. The mandate requires the purchase, installation, and use of an ELD which will digitally record a driver’s movements. Many drivers originally protested the regulation arguing it was a violation of privacy, but their efforts to overturn the regulation were unsuccessful.
“Current ELD technologies do not recognize the hours-of-service exemptions for agriculture that are in federal law, leaving drivers to do twice the work by requiring use of both the ELD and traditional paper logs,” said Perdue. “I applaud Secretary Chao for recognizing these obstacles and giving extra time for compliance while DOT issues guidance. While public safety is a critical concern for all of trucking, the safety of living agricultural commodities in transport must also be considered.”
The agriculture exemption extension will provide the industry with additional time to address compliance issues. Several industry groups such as the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association have also applauded the action. The waiver period will also allow the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to clarify how the rule should be applied to the transportation of agricultural goods and livestock.