May 15, 2009
Fifty agricultural groups banded together to show support for the agricultural hours-of-service (ag HOS) exemption during the transportation authorization debate this week. The organizations are particularly concerned by recent calls to repeal the ag HOS exemption by those citing trucking safety issues in the agricultural industry.
The Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users exempted agricultural carriers from the hours-of-service regulations if they operated only within a 100-mile radius from their central base of operation.
The flexibility provided by this exemption is needed in the agricultural industry to "finish the job" during busy planting and harvest seasons, when seasons and weather patterns do not comply with normal work schedules. Eliminations of this exemption would not only increase agricultural operating costs and reduce transportation efficiency but it may also create safety issues during harvest and planting seasons if producers are required to hire more temporary and possibly less-experienced drivers.
There is a great deal of misinformation related to the exemption circulating in the news yet the agriculture industry is dedicated to educating its members about the importance of safety, particularly during planting and harvesting.
The American Sheep Industry Association supports this initiative.