Transportation Fiasco Looming for Long Distance Cattle Hauls

Transporting cattle could become much more difficult if a set of congressionally mandated trucking rules go into effect before the end of the year. The regulations have the potential to cause devastating disruptions in how cattle are hauled, creating unintended biosecurity hazards and animal welfare issues.

On Dec. 18, 2017, the federal Electronic Logging Device (ELD) rule regulated by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) will begin for commercial motor vehicles. ELDs are a record keeping device synchronized to a truck engine that logs information digitally. In real-time an ELD records data such as time spent on the road, miles driven, location and engine hours.

Use of ELDs is being enforced by DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) through a mandate called MAP-21 which was signed into law on July 6, 2012. The regulations were supposed to create safer driving conditions and help eliminate the need for paper logs. Unfortunately, lawmakers didn’t consider what the changes might mean for livestock haulers.

Impact on Trucking and Producers

Steve Hilker, owner of Steve Hilker Trucking Inc., in Cimarron, Kan., could see what it would mean for his business when the regulations were first being established. The voluntary introductory phase for ELDs began Dec. 16, 2015.

“This is going to be a disaster for livestock transportation for anything over 500 miles,” Hilker says.

He isn’t opposed to using electronic logging, it is the hours of service limitations that come with the regulation that he disagrees with.

Under the ELD rule, truckers have an hours of service limit of 11 hours of driving in a 24 hour period. Drivers can be on-duty a total of 14 hours consecutively, including the 11 hours of drive time. After 11 hours are reached, drivers must rest and be off -duty for 10 consecutive hours.

“There has never been any consideration for a living, breathing cargo,” Hilker says.

For long hauls, such as bringing calves from Florida or California to the cattle feeding region in the High Plains, it could be detrimental.

Individual drivers have two options after driving 11 hours, Hilker says. Either they park the truck and trailer or they unload the cattle. In both situations they would need to wait the required 10 hours before getting back on the road.

A study from Canada showed spending more time in a trailer causes additional shrink for cattle. From 10 to 20 hours in a trailer, cattle will lose 6% to 7.5% in body fluid. At 24 to 28 hours, cattle will start to lose tissue, setting their performance back before reaching a final destination.

Unloading cattle at facilities midway along a long haul has the possibility to cross contaminate with other cattle. This poses a major health risk for the animals and a biosecurity risk to the food supply.

Hilker believes price discounts for long-transported cattle might occur in certain areas of the country and the costs of the transportation regulation will likely be passed onto consumers buying beef.

“What will happen for the producer who is hauling here (the High Plains’ cattle feeding region) from Wyoming, Montana, Florida, Georgia, anywhere over 11 hours? They’re going to get paid less for their calves,” Hilker says. “The trucker is going to pass the cost on, we can’t absorb it.”

Another option would be to drive in shifts with an extra driver, but this will add additional costs and require more employees. There is already a shortage of truck drivers. In Hilker’s case, he has three trucks that are not running because there is a lack of available drivers.

Exemptions Exist

Agriculture exemptions do exist, but those exemptions literally don’t go far enough.

If an agriculture driver stays within 150 miles of the origin of their load the hours of service rule does not apply. A driver can go outside of that 150 mile radius eight days out of a rolling 30 day period.

Hilker plans to run his 16 livestock rigs without ELDs and stick to hauling cattle in his immediate area. A lot of local cattle transport occurs in his area, as he is situated between major packing plants in Dodge City, Garden City and Liberal, Kan., several feedlots near those towns and two large sale barns at Dodge City and Pratt, Kan.

“Because of where I’m at geographically I think I can make that work for my business. It is going to require more management on my part,” Hilker adds.

Paper logs are still required under the exemption and Hilker will need to monitor distances traveled to stay in the 150-mile limit.

Without an ELD attached to the trucks and operating under the MAP- 21 agriculture exemption, Hilker is losing a portion of his business that helped build the company. Starting out more than 30 years ago he often hauled cattle long distance from areas like the Northern Plains, Southeast and West into the surrounding cattle feeding region.

Another truck owned by Hilker is used for grain hauling in the local area so it will fall under the agriculture exemption, too. The 18th truck in his fleet is utilized for fuel hauling and will be the only vehicle equipped with an ELD.

Running an ELD can be costly depending on the type of unit purchased. Prices range from $285 to $1,000 per unit with an additional monthly service fee of $30 to $50.

“The thing about the ELD is none of them have been certified by the FMCSA. They allow the ELD manufactures to self-certify that they are compliant,” Hilker says.

Another reason Hilker doesn’t plan to install ELDs in his livestock hauling fleet is because none of the units he has looked at are also compatible with the MAP-21 agriculture exemption, which would be the majority of his hauls.

Waiting on Capitol Hill

Industry associations and government leaders have proposed changes to MAP-21.

Hilker, in addition to running a trucking company and feeding his own cattle at local feedlots, has also been active in Washington, D.C., the past few years. Serving as the transportation committee chair for the United States Cattlemen’s Association (USCA), Hilker has talked with his members of Congress about ELDs and their impact on livestock transport. He encourages others to contact their senators and representatives on this issue.

USCA is part of a broad coalition of 31 industry groups including the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, Agricultural Retailers Association, National Hay Association and National Corn Growers Association. Those organizations are supporting legislation that would delay ELD implementation for two years. Rep. Brian Babin, R-Texas, introduced H.R.3282, the ELD Extension Act of 2017 and is currently in committee.

The House did pass an appropriations bill that included a one-year delay for livestock and insect haulers.

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and Livestock Marketing Association (LMA) also support extending the time to implement the regulation and adjusting the hours of service.

“The intent of the language in the House appropriations bill is to give livestock haulers a one-year delay to continue our ongoing conversations with FMCSA,” explains Allison Cooke, NCBA executive director of government affairs.

That language will need to be maintained when the House and Senate go to conference on their appropriations packages. Cooke says the current Senate package does not include any language pertaining to ELDs and livestock hauling. Another concern is getting the bill passed before the Dec. 18 start date for the ELD rule.

Pumping the brakes on the ELD rule would help ensure livestock haulers remain in compliance, says Jara Settles, general counsel at LMA.

“Livestock haulers haven’t been the beneficiaries of adequate outreach to bring them up to speed,” Settles says.

An extra year would give industry groups and livestock haulers more time to better communicate to lawmakers the need for more flexible hours of service is a necessity.

“We need some kind of reasonable flexibility for our drivers so they can travel in a safe manner while still being respectful of animal welfare concerns,” Settles says.

One other option is to add scheduling flexibility or what is known as a “split sleeper berth.” This allows a driver to split up their rest time into smaller chunks rather than using it all in one block.

“There is quite a bit of research that demonstrates drivers can split up their rest time in a more natural way. Very few of us go and sleep 10 hours straight. We can be more productive if we split up rest time throughout the day,” Settles says.

Thus far, FMCSA has continued to stay with mandated 10 hours of consecutive rest. LMA and USCA both support a split sleeper berth revision to the rule.

If the route through Congress doesn’t work, there is hope from a recent petition filing. On Oct. 31, the National Pork Producers Council filed a petition to the Federal Register asking the DOT to exempt livestock haulers. It was supported by NCBA, LMA and USCA.

The petition will be opened up for a 30 day comment period. Cooke says NCBA plans to have members comment on the topic of hours of service, particularly those who haul cattle. “We’re going to focus on the fact that our safety record in livestock hauling is strong,” she says.

If the petition route is successful, DOT could grant up to a five-year exemption for livestock haulers to integrate ELDs.

“The bottomline is we have live animals that we have to get from point A to point B. We have to do it safely for those on the road and the driver, and we have to be concerned with the welfare of the animals,” Cooke says.


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Submitted by RED RED RED on Sat, 11/11/2017 - 07:49… ...Than, be sure to tell us, does the FMCSA in all it's glory, supercede the individual State Mandates or State exemptions, on STATE Highways and FM roads and gravel roads? There is alot of discussion on the shoulders and non-existent shoulders between the 3 involved groups: State, County, City First Enforcers, and State Revenue collectors who collect those Fees, and those whose profit pinch margins & self-financed EDUCATION, are at the mercy of 'the Speculator'. Guess who gets' the pay for the pain-laden-pinch education, in those situations? And the issue is still hidden in the smoke and mirrors curtains which continue to exist everywhere because that BUCK never stops, but the BILL always lands on the bottom tier of the 3.

Submitted by Zeb frank on Sun, 11/12/2017 - 19:20

Just one simple question. What about all the other products being haul? Lumber, vegatiables, and or any products of any sort. Are all at such a high demand that could hinder any sort of productivity? Just trying to understand all these reason for why livestock is any different then any other item. I am otr, haul vehicles and these are high demand as well. A dealer could have lost a sale because th3 right car isn't on the lot. Shouldn't I be exempt as well. Smh. I lol often at all the reasons people make up.

Submitted by Anonymous on Sun, 11/12/2017 - 20:46

It’s not the demand. It is the fact that they are hauling a living animal. Standing in a trailer is a lot harder on the animal than a car.

In reply to by Zeb frank (not verified)

Submitted by Meg on Sun, 11/12/2017 - 21:35

On top of livestock losing weight and decreasing in value, it is crucial to get them on feed and water, rested and de-stressed as soon as possible. Longer periods of standing, multiple loading and unloading is an animal welfare concern. Exposing more animals to more of each other in passing if they have to be held over in lots from different parts of the country is dangerous for spreading disease. Couldn't track origin of an outbreak. Smh, read the article?

In reply to by Zeb frank (not verified)

Submitted by hexe on Mon, 11/13/2017 - 08:24

You don't have legal restrictions on how long lumber, vegetables or vehicles can remain on or in the trailer--livestock haulers, OTOH, have to consider those regulations as well...

In addition, I'm reasonably sure that there aren't any lumber-, produce- or vehicle-welfare activists that will raise hell because your product will have been held inside a trailer for an extended period of time.

In reply to by Zeb frank (not verified)

Submitted by GWC on Wed, 11/22/2017 - 09:01

These freight haulers just dont understand or car haulers ,there should be an exemption for hauling livestock

In reply to by Zeb frank (not verified)

Submitted by Shery Bailey on Sun, 11/12/2017 - 22:03

Maybe they will have to start a pony express type of operation, pass off to another driver half way to their destination.

Submitted by Christopher Fox on Sun, 11/12/2017 - 22:32

There are approved devices. There are also grandfathered in devices. Omnitracs makes one. There also phone based devices.

Submitted by Anonymous on Mon, 11/13/2017 - 05:49

The hours of operations rules were created and are enforced to protect the public at large. If you still want to cheat the rules and drive hundreds of miles longer than legally allowed by slamming energy drinks and using duplicate paper logs then all you have to do is operate an older truck or one with an older engine. I am embarrassed for anyone that tries to argue that the welfare of the transported animals is more important than the safety of the public traveling alongside them.

Submitted by PappaD on Mon, 11/13/2017 - 08:57

Due to distance and limited driving hours.
Cattle haulers and ELDs will not work together. There is no network in place to safely off loading cattle in mid trip. The demands of livestock hauling doesn't allow a lot of time for messing around watching a clock dictate their freedom to get shit done.
The cattle industry as a whole is not prepared for the mandated ELD compliance enforcement. If this mandate isn't changed for livestock, it will effect and hurt everyone doing business in cattle. And it will surely effect consumers who eat beef or enjoy dairy products. Please keep in mind all the products that the cattle industry produces will be marginalized due to over regulation and forced compliance.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Submitted by Bob on Sat, 12/16/2017 - 11:21

ELD changes nothing. Livestock haulers can no longer break the Hours Of Service laws by cheating their paper logs. ELDs are not the problem, HOS are. Allowing livestock haulers to continue breaking the HOS law by avoiding ELD compliance is not fixing the actual problem.

In reply to by PappaD (not verified)

Submitted by robin smith on Mon, 11/13/2017 - 08:52

Let Govt eat the added costs of paying for an extra driver and employees. Tax breaks and cost initiatives The idiots that are making the rules have no idea of what it takes to manage cattle operation of any kind. Just a bunch of bleeding heart liberals who don't have a clue. If its a safety issue let's just back burner it for now, that makes perfect since to me. Insane reasoning I believe.

Submitted by Michael Hauck on Mon, 11/13/2017 - 12:10

The article gets a couple things wrong. Hours of service rules are NOT changing. Drivers have had to comply with these rules for years and apply to all commercial transportation. The new rule requires electronic tracking of the drivers driving time. These transporters are upset because they have been ignoring\violating the rules all along and now its going to be harder for them to cheat without getting caught.

Submitted by Eugene on Mon, 11/13/2017 - 12:57

You got it right their basically admitting they've been breaking the rules. I should know I did for almost 20 years while I was driving

In reply to by Michael Hauck (not verified)

Submitted by lw moore on Mon, 11/13/2017 - 18:46

Team drivers, a little extra cost but the truck dont have to stop.

Submitted by RW. SCOTT on Mon, 11/13/2017 - 19:12

Work for company and we have 22-25 trucks with ELDS and we have very few issues moving cattle 1400 - 2300 miles . It is not ELDS the problem is you will need to set up feed and water stations same as in Canada

Submitted by Just your average driver on Tue, 11/14/2017 - 09:55

Bull****, the livestock industry has had years to discuss the hours of service and ELDs with FMCSA and hasn't done so. That's right, the hours of service rules changed to their base format 15 years ago and the ELD rule has made no significant to them. Only now the bull haulers see that ELDs will definitely have to be used and for a first time they'll have to keep truthful and accurate records, that compliance may mean a real co-driver instead of a "ghost". It's now they run off to Congress with a chicken little story. I understand how an industry with a high crash rate finds little sympathy from the regulators, but come on, be honest.

Personally, I'm more interested in sharing the road while not being crushed under a livestock hauler who's driver made a sleepy bad decision before a curve than whether it takes two drivers instead of one driver on extended time or long distance livestock hauls.

Submitted by Anonymous on Sun, 12/10/2017 - 03:32

Our crash rates are significantly lower than all others in the trucking industry. That's why they are considering exemptions for us. You might want check out them for yourself. Kentucky did reserch between utilities trucks ag trucks and freight trucks. Of course freight trucks were highest.

In reply to by Just your aver… (not verified)

Submitted by Anonymous on Sun, 12/10/2017 - 03:32

Our crash rates are significantly lower than all others in the trucking industry. That's why they are considering exemptions for us. You might want check out them for yourself. Kentucky did reserch between utilities trucks ag trucks and freight trucks. Of course freight trucks were highest.

In reply to by Just your aver… (not verified)

Submitted by gary holfstra on Tue, 11/14/2017 - 10:17

So, to be clear...livestock haulers weren't following the hours of service rules before ELD's came out but now that ELDs are coming out they won't be able to falsify their logbooks anymore, right? So why did the livestock industry sit on it's hands for the previous 5, 10, 15 and more years without addressing the hours of service issue? The ELD rule didn't change anything other than the means of recording driver hours and is being done primarily because people cheat the hours rules and kill people on the roads. It's a bit too late in the game to be whining when you didn't participate in the rulemaking process - which takes years and years by the way so you had plenty of time to do so.

Submitted by Milkman on Wed, 11/29/2017 - 18:59

As usual the dumb ass city folk and government don't have a fucking clue how farming works. Farming especially with livestock is a 24 hour a day job, not an 11 hours and go to bed. Until the ag industry gets some decent rules established, every farmer should just quit selling their products and let you people starve to death, because without farmers that is exactly what would happened to you people. Most truck drivers drive a truck because they are too dam dumb to do anything else and to lazy to work, so they drive a truck and cry every 11 hours how they can't work anymore. I farm and run my truck also, I can safely drive over 11 hours and if I'm tired just take a break, something you can't do with elds, you are forced to drive no matter what because you are on a clock working against you. Since 50% of all truck accidents are caused by cars I don't think the truck drivers need more enforcement any way. You can not let livestock stand on trucks with no food and water for long periods of time, and you can't unload livestock without risk of injury, spread of disease, and shrink, not alone breaking out and not getting caught again. This was a rule passed by the Republican house and Senate that was passed because it is what the big trucking companies want so they can force down driver pay. Now what would be a simple answer to this since most of you dumbassses think this is good🤔🤔 how about a 750% price increase on every item in the grocery store so farmers and livestock haulers can be compensated for their lose, that should fucking shut you up for a while. Not every farmer can farm within 500 miles of a packing plant, and if they have to take less for their product many will quit livestock and you will see what that does to price. Now an even better answer to the problem, fmcsa and republicans are taking our livelihood away, we need to take something important to them, their house, kids, grandkids, parents, burn and kill everything important to them, it is time this country gets taken back and put in the hands of working people

In reply to by gary holfstra (not verified)

Submitted by Ram on Fri, 01/05/2018 - 14:06

Spoken like a truly ignorant, greedy, dumbass, in other words, a Democrat.

In reply to by Milkman (not verified)

Submitted by Livestock Auction Market Owner on Thu, 05/24/2018 - 10:44

This is spot on!! Absolutely accurate on all levels. Appreciate your words Milkman

In reply to by Milkman (not verified)

Submitted by John Smith on Thu, 04/19/2018 - 06:00

These limitations have been put forward with the intention of social wellbeing. The ELDs can track the shipment and get the records in case of any issue during transit. This reduces the risk of being stranded in middle of the road in middle of the night. As far as the limitation in driving hours is concerned, the logistics partners involved can sent a set tof two drivers to change in each shift. That way no single driver works for more than 14 hours and the time will also be saved. These limitations have been put forward with the intention of social wellbeing. The ELDs can track the shipment and get the records in case of any issue during transit. This reduces the risk of being stranded in middle of the road in middle of the night. As far as the limitation in driving hours is concerned, the logistics partners involved can sent a set tof two drivers to change in each shift. That way no single driver works for more than 14 hours and the time will also be saved. dish vs directv

Submitted by LYNDA on Sat, 06/09/2018 - 12:45

These E lectronic Logs cause more problems, than good. They don't even give a driver time to stop and have a meal. And the livestock on the trailer, needs to get to it's destination in a stated time, that would be called animal crulety, if they had to stand on a trailer in the heat of summer or cold of winter, for 10 hours.They are living animals, the government does not ever think of anything, only making money. Paper logs have worked for years. Why the big change, no wonder there is a shortage of drivers. I have been out for 25 years, and when the ELogs come to my company I am hanging up the keys.

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