On November 15, 2021, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) of 2021 was signed into law by President Biden. The IIJA contained a provision of law impacting the current agricultural exemption afforded to motor carriers and drivers who transport agricultural commodities.
Specifically, the change added language extending the current Hours of Service (HOS) exemption for livestock haulers, for the final 150 air-mile radius from the destination of the livestock. Prior to the change, drivers transporting agricultural products, including livestock, were exempt from HOS if they were within 150 air-miles of the source of the commodity of the agricultural commodity. The change now grants an additional 150 air-mile exemption from the final destination of the livestock, for a total of 300 air-miles.
Example A: A driver transporting livestock or lobster on a trip of 700 air-miles would be exempt from HOS for the first 150 air-miles, subject to HOS for the next 400 air-miles, and then exempt again for the last 150 air-miles from the final destination of the livestock.
Example B: A driver who transports livestock or lobster who remains within 300 air-miles of the source and final destination of the commodity is exempt from HOS for the entire trip. However, if the driver delivers the commodity and is returning unladen to the source of the commodity, they would be subject to the HOS until they reach 150 air-miles from the source.
It is important to remind motor carriers that regulations prohibit them from driving while ill or fatigued… even when exempted from HOS.
Note: This change only applies to commodities that meet the definition of livestock, as defined in section 603 of the Emergency Livestock Feed Assistance Act. Those familiar with the previous change will recall that FMCSA has clarified that the definition of livestock includes lobster and live fish when they published this with regard to the definition of livestock:
The Agency therefore interprets the term to include all living animals cultivated, grown, or raised for commercial purposes, including aquatic animals, in addition to those animals already identified in the 1988 Act, and amends the definition “livestock” in § 395.2 accordingly.
IMPORTANT TO CLARIFY: This change does not impact the transportation of agricultural commodities that do not meet the definition of livestock, such as potatoes, broccoli, trees, shrub, and live plants. Those commodities will continue to receive the original 150 air-mile exemption but not the new change described above.
As always, feel free to call MMTA at (207) 623-4128 for any of your compliance questions.
For further information on the agricultural exemption: Agricultural Commodity | FMCSA (dot.gov)