DIXON, Ill. — When truck drivers and cattle feeders talk at 2 a.m., there’s one thing that always comes up in their conversation.
“It’s been a topic of conversation among truck drivers, even at two or three in the morning as they are unloading cattle. We always seem to come around to ELDs and what it means and could mean for them,” said Al Lyman, a cattle feeder from Cambridge.
The exemption for livestock haulers from the mandate requiring an electronic logging device was slated to end March 18. Hard enforcement of the ELD mandate begins April 1.
On March 13, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration granted an additional 90-day waiver, exempting ag-related transportation, including livestock haulers, from the ELD mandate.
It was the news that Allison Cooke, director of governmental affairs for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, had hoped to share just days earlier when she spoke to a group of cattlemen at the Illinois Cattle Feeders Meeting.
“I was hoping I would have some good news to share with you today, but, alas, I do not. We are still in a waiting pattern, and we are doing all that we can. I am prayerful that something will drop in the next few days,” said Cooke, speaking at the meeting sponsored by the Illinois Beef Association at Sauk Valley Community College.
It did drop, and Cooke said she now is hopeful that the momentum continues.
“The one-year ELD delay for livestock haulers language was in the original House-passed appropriations bill, and our hope is to maintain that as we finish funding for FY 2018,” she said.
Running Out Of Time
Cooke said that she and her team at NCBA, along with transportation officials from other national livestock groups, have made it clear to Elaine Chao, U.S. secretary of transportation, that livestock haulers need relief from the ELD mandate and from current Hours of Service rules that can conflict with hauling livestock.
Cooke also alluded to petitions that have been filed with the FMCSA asking for more time for the livestock industry to comply with the ELD mandate.
“We’re going to take any days we can get. It’s a Band-Aid, but at least it’s something,” she said.
She urged both livestock haulers and livestock producers who depend on those haulers to get their livestock to and from farms to contact their members of Congress to voice their concerns and to let their members of Congress know how the current Hours of Service rule and the ELD mandate would impact their business.
“If D.C. doesn’t hear from you who are doing the real work, they are just going to keep going about their nonsense and just keep moving forward with this. Make sure you become part of the conversation, so you can be heard. Make sure you reach out to your members of Congress, too, if this is an issue for you. Make sure you go to their district offices. Go visit their district offices,” she said.