Two Major Impacts the ELD Mandate will have on the Agricultural Industry

At an early age, I learned how to drive a truck and trailer hauling livestock. When I received my driver’s license, I started making 12 plus hour trips across the nation to exhibit at national livestock shows. Making long trips became a natural instinct for me, and I know a majority of my livestock enthusiast friends who are also capable of traveling long distance while hauling livestock.

In December 2015, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) established the Electronic Logging Device Mandate. According to FMCSA, they want to “create a safer work environment for drivers, and by make it easier and faster to accurately track, manage, and share records of duty status data.” The logging device automatically records driving time and break periods.

Initially, the mandate became a restriction placed on the agricultural industry. While many in the agricultural industry are frustrated by the mandate, complaints have been made to senators and representatives from across the nation. A 90-day extension was given to livestock haulers to comply with the mandate by March 18, 2018. However, an additional extension has been granted and the mandate will officially go into effect on June 18, 2018.

ELD Mandate
Does the ELD Mandate apply to you? ExtensionHorses.org created an infographic answering these questions. Credit: extensionhorses.org.

While I understand policymakers and representatives want to keep drivers safe on the roads, what they do not know is how they are hindering the agricultural industry by issuing the mandate. Here are two major ways the ELD Mandate impacts the agricultural industry.

Efficiency

A huge factor the ELD Mandate restricts is efficiency. According to Drover, in 2015, approximately 400,000 head of cattle are hauled across the nation per day. When hauling livestock, the ultimate goal is to put as little stress on the animal while getting them to their destination safely. Often times, the destination is 1,000 miles or more from the operation. This requires livestock haulers to travel for more than 10 hours.  With the ELD Mandate comes hours of service (HOS), which according to Protect the Harvest “requires that drivers can only be on the road for 11 hours of a 14 hour shift.” Personally, policymakers need to re-evaluate the mandate and ask themselves what would happen if a livestock hauler does not make it to their destination during this time frame. This severely decreases the efficiency of livestock arriving at their destination on time.

Animal welfare concerns

While policymakers are trying to make the roads safer, they are not considering the number of animal welfare rules they are putting into question. Farmers, ranchers, and livestock enthusiasts understand ventilation for animals is important when traveling. If a livestock hauler does not reach its destination in the hours of service, they have to stop for a 10-hour rest break. There are limited animal infrastructures that can house the number of livestock hauled across the nation. The industry’s advocate, Protect the Harvest, explains the process of unloading, laying over, then reloading livestock during the 10-hour break period.

ELD Mandate Animal Welfare
Protect the Harvest works tirelessly to inform policymakers on the risks the ELD mandate brings forth to the agricultural industry. The mandate is a “giant step backwards for animal welfare.” Photo credit: Protect the Harvest

As of December 2017, the FMCSA has not found any safety improvements with carriers who started using logging devices. In the upcoming months, I hope policymakers become aware of how they are restricting transportation of livestock across the nation and the mandate will be revised.

To express your concerns about the mandate, please contact your senators and representatives by visiting USA.gov. For more information about the ELD Mandate, visit the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Do you have more questions regarding the ELD mandate and its impact on the industry? To increase your knowledge about the ELD Mandate, please visit Protect the Harvest’s website.