New bill aims to offer 'common sense solutions' for drivers hauling animals

Alice Mannette
The Hutchinson News

Washington, D.C.– U.S. Sen. Roger Marshall has cosponsored the Haulers of Agriculture and Livestock Safety (HAULS) Act, a bipartisan bill that would deliver much-needed flexibility for livestock and agricultural haulers.

Truckers who drive livestock and perishables are restricted in their hours on the road. Currently, livestock drivers cannot drive more than 11 consecutive hours, except during harvest, when the hours lengthen a bit. But livestock trucks must transport pigs, cows, poultry and milk year-round; not just during harvest and planting season.

Because truckers cannot drive more than 11 consecutive hours, they often do not take many stops. After 11 hours on the road, the driver is required to rest for ten hours.

Dirt roads, traffic or an accident may delay the driver, causing his living cargo to have to wait on the truck. If this happens, the driver would not make his/her destination and must find a place to unload the cattle. However, poultry and hogs must remain on the truck.

“Livestock and ag haulers have gone above and beyond to minimize disruptions in the food supply chain caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Marshall said in a release. “The HAULS Act provides common sense solutions to protect the safety of our roads and truck drivers, prioritize animal welfare, and ensure the timely delivery of agricultural commodities so that the people of our nation remain fed.”

Under the current rules, livestock haulers are subject to the same hours-of-service requirements as drivers moving consumer goods, despite the demands of maintaining animal health and welfare. 

The HAULS Act would add a 150 air-mile radius exemption under HOS regulations to the backend of hauls for those transporting livestock or agricultural commodities. This legislation also eliminates the seasonal harvest requirements for the agriculture HOS exemption, making the exemption available year-round in all states.  

Marshall also announced the reintroduction of the Modernizing Agricultural Transportation Act, a bipartisan legislation to reform the Hours of Service (HOS) and Electronic Logging Device (ELD) regulations at the U.S. Department of Transportation. 

The bill would establish a working group at the U.S. Department of Transportation comprised of representatives from the transportation and agriculture industries, transportation safety representatives and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.