WASHINGTON, Oct. 27– U.S. Reps. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) and Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.) are lead sponsors on legislation that would clarify congressional intent regarding the Agriculture Hours-of-Service (AgHOS) regulations issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
The Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA), the Agricultural and Food Transporters Conference (AFTC) of the American Trucking Association, the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC) and The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) voiced their support today for the legislation, which would clarify transportation regulations that are critical to the agricultural sector’s ability to distribute farm supplies.
“The agricultural exemption to the HOS rule is a crucial tool for transporters of agricultural products during the busiest times of the year,” said AFTC Chairman, Rick Yost. “We commend the work of Congressmen Luetkemeyer and Graves, and the other co-sponsors, for their work on this very important legislation.”
The exemption came into question in 2009 when the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued an interpretation of the regulations that resulted in transportation restrictions for certain farm supplies. The legislation introduced this week by Reps. Graves and Luetkemeyer, and co-sponsored by 38 other Congress members, amends aspects of the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act to clarify the applicability of exemptions for agricultural products.
"Planting and harvesting a crop is tough enough without having to deal with overbearing federal regulations," Graves said.
This legislation would reinforce what Graves and Luetkemeyer believe is existing law by clarifying that a driver transporting farm supplies from source to retail, source to farm, and retail to farm is included under the AgHOS exemption.
“When I visit with agricultural retailers across the country, one of the top issues they bring up as a threat to their business is the Hours of Service issue,” said ARA President & CEO Daren Coppock. “We appreciate the efforts of Congressmen Graves and Luetkemeyer on this issue so that agricultural retailers are able to serve the needs of farmers during the busy planting and harvest seasons.”
Specifically, the legislation clarifies that the agricultural hours of service exemption is applicable to:
• Drivers transporting agricultural commodities within a 100 air-mile radius;
• Drivers transporting farm supplies for agricultural purposes from a wholesale or retail business to a farm or other location where the farm supplies are intended to be used within a 100 air-mile radius from the distribution point; or
• Drivers transporting farm supplies from a wholesale location to a retail location so long as the transportation is within a 100 air-mile radius.
“This legislation will ensure that farmer co-ops can continue to provide their producer-owners and other customers with farm supplies in a timely and efficient manner,” said NCFC President & CEO of Chuck Conner. “We appreciate Representatives Luetkemeyer and Graves, and other members of congress, efforts to permanently resolve this issue.”
“TFI commends Congressman Graves and Luetkemeyer, along with the other co-sponsors of this legislation, for taking the steps necessary to ensure that the agricultural community has access to the crop nutrients and farm supplies necessary to produce safe, healthy and abundant crops,” said TFI President Ford B. West.
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