The National Chicken Council and 18 other agricultural organizations that are members of the Agricultural Transportation Working Group sent a written request this week to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and the House of Representatives Transportation & Infrastructure Committee seeking “important technical clarification to the existing agricultural hours-of-service (AgHOS) regulations for commercial motor carriers.”

The group asked that, when the conferees work on finalizing the Senate-House conference agreement on the two transportation bills, that the necessary clarification be included.  For the poultry industry, the clarification is especially important for live haul operations and for feed delivery to farms.  At times when these departments of a poultry company must work extended daily hours or a six-day week, there can be a regulatory question with respect to allowed times and hours for drivers.

The agricultural exemption came into question in 2009 when the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued an interpretation of the regulations that resulted in transportation restrictions for certain farm supplies. The FMCSA interpretation is contrary to Congressional intent for this exemption, which was enacted into law nearly twenty years ago, the groups said. Congress needs to provide FMCSA and the agricultural industry additional statutory clarity to ensure there is no disruption in deliveries of farm supplies to America’s farmers and ranchers, the group explained.

As a part of the request, the committees also were asked to address the issues of trucks crossing state boundaries and the allowed air-mile radius for travel.  “This common-sense, bi-partisan and bi-cameral proposal will reinforce existing law by clarifying that a driver transporting farm supplies from source to retail, source to farm, and retail to farm is included in the AgHOS exemption,” the group request concluded.

The letter  is available here.