Jenn Zeller is a South Dakota rancher’s wife who writes a blog about her everyday ranch life for AQHA’s Ranching website. But she’s also a barrel racer who hauls her American Quarter Horses to compete throughout the Midwest. She has recently taken on a new mission – letting her friends and followers know how she and others like her are being affected by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) electronic logging device (ELD) mandate that went into effect in December 2017.
The rule was intended to limit the amount of time a commercial truck driver can drive, mandates a specific amount of off-duty/non-driving time, and requires the use of electronic logging devices to track the driving and non-driving times. While there are some exemptions from the ELD mandate for farm and agricultural hauling, many of the rigs used for hauling horses and the activities horse owners participate in may not be exempt.
“Someone hauling their personal property should not be required to have a commercial driver’s license no matter how large the truck or trailer,” Jenn says. “Further, they should not be required to keep a log book, because they’re not a commercial driver. Yet, currently they’re being treated like they are in the trucking industry. Me deciding to go to a rodeo – whether one a year or 40 – hauling my horses/personal property to and from rodeos, isn't for the feds to regulate. End of story. I don't make my living by the act of driving – delivering people or goods around the country and being paid to do so. I fail to see how rodeo as a hobby is considered commerce. It isn't. What you do as a hobby should not be regulated to the extent the rule says it should be. I don't rodeo to pay my bills. I rodeo because it's fun.
"Me deciding to go to a rodeo – whether one a year or 40 – hauling my horses/personal property to and from rodeos, isn't for the feds to regulate. End of Story"
“This rule affects 4-Hers, horse enthusiasts, rodeo folks, horse trainers, team ropers, the show-cattle industry and anyone else who drives a one-ton with a trailer behind it,” she adds. “In South Dakota, between the Black Hills Stock Show and the National Junior High Finals Rodeo, the economic impact for those two events is roughly $27 million. If people who compete in those shows feel like they cannot comply with the ELD mandate, it will financially impact those two events, as well as the cities that host them.”
Jenn is no different from any other AQHA member. If you haul your horses with a truck and trailer, depending on your state department of transportation’s interpretation of the rule, you could be out of compliance and be subject to significant fines.
That’s why AQHA has banded together with several other livestock and agriculture organizations to request a one-year exemption for livestock haulers. Currently, there’s a 90-day waiver for the livestock industry that expires March 18, 2018. We’re also asking the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to take a hard look at the rule and to provide exemptions for livestock haulers, including horse owners. What this mandate does not account for is that the horse industry and the larger livestock industry, as a whole, don’t fit neatly into anyone’s box.
This rule is poised to affect widely accepted welfare standards throughout the livestock industry, too. Animals in transit are often best moved without stopping to offload, due to the additional stresses and biosecurity risks of unfamiliar facilities. However, the ELD mandate includes requirements limiting consecutive hours of drive time. When these limits are reached, drivers must log 10 hours of continuous rest. As we interpret the rule, the people driving many of these rigs, whether semi-trucks or a pickup towing a larger slant-load trailer, may have to comply with the ELD mandate. (To see if this affects you, please check with your state Department of Transportation for current commercial driver’s license requirements.)
In a letter to the United States Department of Transportation on behalf of AQHA, I encouraged the Department of Transportation to grant a one-year enforcement delay followed by a waiver and limited exemptions from compliance with the implementation date for the final rule on ELDs and hours of service. This will allow the department the opportunity to take appropriate steps to alleviate any unintended consequences that this mandate may have on the hauling of horses or other livestock.
Overall, the Association believes more time is needed to reach out to the horse industry, specifically, and the livestock industry as a whole, to ensure that industry education programs include ELD compliance and use. A one-year exemption will provide the horse industry the opportunity to educate members and allow the opportunity for the FMCSA to develop livestock-specific solutions to the ELD and underlying hours of service concerns of the industry.
What Can You Do?
Currently there is language in the House appropriations bill that would give livestock haulers a one-year exemption to the mandate. To support the ELD one-year extension and exemptions, contact your federal lawmakers (their contact information can be found here). Encourage your senators and representatives to support the appropriations bill with the ELD exemption.
We understand that many of our members feel like their voices aren’t heard by their elected representatives. Believe me, based your AQHA leaderships’ visits to our lawmakers in Washington, D.C., your letters get read.
Additionally, you can tune-in the American Horse Council webinar about the ELD mandate at 2 p.m. Central on February 12. The webinar will address the details of what the ELD mandate includes and who is required to have an electronic logging device. Register for the webinar here. If you can’t watch the webinar on February 12, it will be recorded and posted on the AHC website.
To read more about the implementation of electronic logging devices, visit www.fmcsa.dot.gov and search “ELD Rule.”
View brochures created by the American Horse Council for more information on the Electronic Logging Device Mandate and Commercial Driver's Licenses.
Craig P. Huffhines