Industry associations have asked the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for a two-year exemption on electronic logging device mandate for trucks carrying agricultural commodities. ( File photo )

A coalition of industry associations has asked the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for a two-year exemption on electronic logging device mandate for trucks carrying agricultural commodities.

A current ELD mandate waiver which postponed the measure for trucks carrying produce and other ag products ends March 18.

In a letter submitted Feb. 20, the United Fresh Produce Association, Western Growers, the National Potato Council, the U.S Apple Association and more than 20 other produce groups said a combination of factors have driven up transportation costs.

“With the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate, driver shortages, and other issues, there have been considerable increases in transportation costs for fresh produce causing devastating effects on our industry,” the letter said. “We are hearing from many of our members across multiple commodities and sectors throughout the country that shippers are having to pay two or three times, occasionally more, the normal rate for transporting their product.”


ELD concerns

The letter said feedback from producers and trucking operations indicates many ELDs on the market are not able to accommodate the agricultural exemption that is provided under the hours-of-service regulations. Under the agricultural exemption, hours-of-service regulations do not apply to the transportation of agricultural commodities operating within a 150-air mile radius of a pick-up.

“We believe that this extension would provide a reasonable period of time for FMCSA to work with the technology providers in developing a program to verify that the ELDs on the market can perform the tasks that the rule mandates and allow trucks hauling agricultural commodities to fully utilize the 150-mile exemption,” according to the letter.

The coalition is asking the agency to consider hours-of-service modifications to accommodate the realities of loading and unloading fresh produce.

“The unpredictability of loading and unloading times as it relates to fresh fruits and vegetables can significantly detract from the on-duty hours drivers are allowed in a day,” according to the letter, which notes that two-to four-hour delays at loading are not uncommon.

“We encourage FMCSA to consider flexibility under either the ELD rule or the hours-of-service rule for truck drivers who are idling, waiting or traveling small distances reflective of negotiating a congested terminal to be considered in an exempt status,” according to the letter. “We do not believe that this type of activity is as demanding as over-the-road driving and therefore should not contribute to maximum driving times.”

The letter also asks the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to:

  • Allow packing facilities, cold storages and other locations to be considered as a “source” location under the hours-of-service regulation.
  • Allow the agricultural exemption’s 150-air-mile radius to begin at the final pick up point for multi-point pickups. Drivers make multiple pick-ups from small packinghouses or cold storage facilities to fill their load before continuing to final destinations. “We would encourage the 150 air-mile radius to begin at the location of the last pick-up point so as not to disrupt current supply chains and accommodate the operational efficiencies organically created by the marketplace over the last 100-plus years,” according to the letter.
  •  Clearly define that empty trucks are covered under the agricultural exemption. According to the letter, agricultural exemptions should be clearly defined to include unladen trucks as eligible if they are traveling to a facility exclusively to pick up an order.
Submitted by Alex Carlucci on Thu, 02/22/2018 - 07:08

Now the crying starts because it's costing them money. My trucks stopped hauling produce years ago. The growers never consider the cost to truckers when they tie the truck up for hours or even days and refuse to pay for it.
This scenario has happened too many times to count. It has happened in the cabbage farms of NEW York, the lettuce fields of California and the Orange groves of Florida. The truck is told it has an appointment and needs to rush not to be late. When the truck arrives there are already numerous others there waiting. When the drivers check in they're told the product won't be ready for hours just park in line and we'll get to whenever. In most cases these farms are a couple of hundred miles out of the way and the drivers are told if you don't like it go find something else. Never are they offered payment for being detained, usually there is only a dirty portable toilet and nothing to eat.
So now they want to put more aggravated and tired drivers on the road because it's costing them too much.

Submitted by Steven on Thu, 02/22/2018 - 09:03

Instead of changing the hours of service, they should be landing and landing hard on all shippers, (not just agriculture, I drive a flatbed and experience similar delays) who detain drivers for hours. There isn't and shouldn't be an exemption for sitting time, there wasn't on paper logs either. All of these arguments are coming out now because the driver cant falsify logs to make all this time sitting vanish anymore. It has been a problem for years. These shippers should not be able to get away with holding a truck for hours like they do.

In reply to by Alex Carlucci (not verified)

Submitted by Cary Ressler on Thu, 02/22/2018 - 10:32

Well said I've said the same thing for years when are shippers and receivers going to be accountable!!

In reply to by Steven (not verified)

Submitted by Mellie Mel on Sat, 03/17/2018 - 01:27

HOS needs to provide more flexibility with split sleeper berth and wait time. Unfortunately, we did not make enough noise when changes were made to the rules. Most drivers are not adjusting paperwork so that they can drive 20 hours straight (placing public safety at risk)., but simply taking back some of their "wait time" at the shipper/receiver. Very often, wait time is over 4 hours & most drivers do take a nap or rest in the sleeper berth while waiting; however, this does not stop the 14 hour clock. We need more split options like 3/7, 4/6, 5/5. The government will Never be able to regulate or penalize non-government operations; therefore, they need to give the truckers more flexibility. There is a "wait time" allowance/exemption for oil/gas & there is a 16 hour day allowance (one per week ) for intrastate 150 air-mile radius. Interstate drivers face the same obstacles which prompted these exceptions. We need some relief **Just 2 nights ago, after waiting @ shipper 6 hours, my driver (unable to get full 11 hours of driving now) attempted to stop & park at a truckstop before his 14hr clock expired - No parking. Went across street - No parking. Now out of time, he drives 20 miles to next truckstop - NO PARKING. He needs food, bathroom, shower, etc & should not have to spend 10 hours on side of road or in rest stop (which most likely had no parking either). He ends up driving another 50 miles, still trying to find parking at a truckstop. Had he been pulled over, he would have been cited and put out of service. Had the 6 hour wait time stopped the 14hour clock, then we would not have this kind of stress.....

In reply to by Steven (not verified)

Submitted by Sasper Vong on Thu, 02/22/2018 - 13:49

There were three companies that haul produces to the North East State. When ever these trucks from these three companies were passing through the state of Pennsylvania. The state of Pennsylvania DOT give them all type of problems. So these companies decided not to haul produces to the North East State any more. Guess, what happens? All the grocery store in the North East State were out of fruits and vegetables. People start to get panics, TV crews go to the store and ask the store manager " why there were no fruits and vegetables in the store? " the store manager answer them " the truck did not bring them there fore we don't have any produces ". The TV crew go to the trucking companies and ask them " why they don't haul produces? " The trucking owners said " We have all type of problems with the state of Pennsylvania DOT. We don't have to haul produces, we can haul something else and make money ". Guess what? The Pennsylvania DOT start to back down. They start to close down check points and weight stations. Trucking company can do business without hauling produces. " People will get panics when there were a state wide short supplies of something." This will become even bigger problems for the state and federal governments. They don't want people to get panics. There are many ways a trucking company fights back. For example if they all decided to stop hauling anything in and out of the state of Minnesota. They can still do business with 47 other state and Canada. They still making money. But the state Minnesota, all their economies will start to collapse. Grocery stores were without foods, no raw materials were delivery to the companies and no finish good were ship out. Companies start to close down and move away to other state. People will become panics. The federal, state, county and city governments will do everything they can to stop this from happening that include remove all ELD. If three companies can do it. I don't see why other companies cannot. Simple just pick one state....