House Members Seek Trucking Ag Exemption Clarification

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Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-OH) and five colleagues sent a letter to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) at the end of December, asking Administrator Ray Martinez for more clarification on the agricultural exemption under Electronic Logging Device (ELD) regulations.

The exemption, which was created in association with the use of ELDs to track Hours of Service (HOS) rules, states that HOS regulations do not apply to the transportation of agricultural commodities operating within a 150 air-mile radius — with work and driving hours not limited and drivers not required to use an ELD. But, the definition of “agricultural commodities” remains vague at best.

We have written extensively in the last year about the regulatory conundrum that horticulture is currently in, with greenhouse and nursery crops generally (and properly) recognized as agriculture, yet when plants are loaded onto a truck, their agricultural commodity status is questioned by FMCSA.

Gibbs specifically used nursery and greenhouse production as an example of why more clarification is needed — as they have long been recognized as agriculture while officials at FMCSA still insist they are not included. It should be noted that Gibbs is well-positioned to speak on this issue – as he sits on both the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure as well as the Agriculture Committee.

In addition to Congressman Gibbs, the five other Congressional members also signing the letter were Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-MN), and Reps. Austin Scott (R-GA), Neal Dunn (R-FL), Jim Costa (D-CA), and Kurt Schrader (D-OR). AmericanHort applauds these Members for elevating the issue through bipartisan Congressional pressure. 

We will keep you posted on how FMCSA responds to the Congressional inquiry. AmericanHort will continue to press for explicit inclusion in the agricultural exemption. Look for more updates as the 116th Congress gets underway. 

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