ATA's mission is to increase the safety, security, profitability and efficiency of transporters of agricultural commodities, food, forest products and natural resources; and to serve as the advocate for its members within the American Trucking Associations and before the government, other organizations and the public.
The United States has the freshest and safest food supply in the world. However, after a few incidents of compromised products in several food manufacturing facilities, Congress passed the Sanitary Food Transportation Act of 2005 and the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011(FSMA). These two recent pieces of legislation show the importance that is placed on food safety in the U.S. In order to continue to have a safe and secure food supply, rules and regulations are continually updated and put into place.
The Conference supports efforts by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) to put safety guidelines in place to ensure America’s food supply continues to be the safest food source in the world. AFTC also works closely with Congress and the appropriate agencies to minimize overly burdensome regulations that may be unnecessarily placed on the food transportation industry.
Transportation of livestock is handled almost exclusively by CMVs, and falls directly under the purview of the AFTC. Over the years, livestock handling and transportation has been scrutinized by animal rights groups around the U.S. These groups have made it clear that they plan to focus much of their effort on livestock transportation. They contend that all long distance livestock transportation is cruel and define long distance as anything farther than the closest slaughterhouse. These groups have been successful in modifying rules for raising livestock in confinement operations, making it imperative that the humane transport of these animals is protected.
The Conference supports the humane and safe transportation of all livestock, while protecting the industry against emotion based opposition to ban humane transport. AFTC continues to work with other livestock groups to actively oppose the proposed ban on double deck trailers for horses, or any other livestock. In addition, AFTC has developed a recommended policy for member companies to ensure humane animal handling and includes training drivers in programs developed by the cattle and hog production industry organizations.
Agricultural Hours of Service (HOS) Exemption
Generally, truck drivers are limited to a maximum of 11 driving hours per day, among other restrictions, which is recorded in a log book that must be presented to a law enforcement officer upon request. However, flexibility is needed during agricultural planting and harvest seasons since weather often dictates when products must be moved. The agricultural hours of service (Ag HOS) exemption allows truck drivers working in the agriculture industry the flexibility to meet the demands of nature.
The Ag HOS exemption is limited in several ways. These qualifications mean that the exemption is not a blanket federal exemption for all agricultural operations.
- It is targeted to the transportation of raw agricultural commodities from the field to the first point of processing, the delivery of farm supplies from a wholesale/distribution point to the retail site or to the farm, or retail site to farm and the transportation of livestock and livestock feed.
- Planting and harvest season is defined by each state according to local conditions.
- It is limited to a 150 air mile radius of the farm, retail or wholesale/distribution point.
AFTC actively supported: clarifying the movement of farm supplies from a wholesale/distribution point to the retailer or farm; removing the term “in the state” from the law, eliminating confusion over interstate movements and; extending the air mile radius from 100 to 150 miles. AFTC continues to actively support safe operations under the ag exemption and its importance in providing flexibility to agriculture during the busiest times of the year.
Due to an ongoing problem with fraud by some brokerage firms, an effort has been underway to increase the current broker bond amount. During the most recent highway bill (MAP-21), that bond amount will be raised from $10k to $75k, effective July 2013. This increase will make it more difficult for brokers, with limited to no assets, to defraud carriers and shippers. However, in addition to the bond increase, there was an attempt to minimize flexibility in the way smaller carriers do business.
For many years, small and mid size carriers have had the flexibility to subhaul/subcontract/convenience interline with other authorized motor carriers when conditions warrant such assistance. This is particularly important to agricultural haulers during the busiest times of the year. Scenarios often arise where weather conditions make completing a job impossible without the assistance of a neighbor, and current law allows authorized motor carriers to transport products with other authorized motor carriers, rail or water carriers, without having to register or use a brokerage firm. There have been many attempts by many in the industry to take away that flexibility by looping the subhaul movements under the “broker authority” title.
The Conference actively supports an increase in the broker bond to a limit that will decrease the fraudulent activity in the brokerage industry. AFTC actively opposes any attempt to minimize or strip the ability to utilize other authorized motor carriers during the busiest times of the year, or during any unexpected circumstances. Many AFTC members utilize subhaul/subcontracting when unforeseen circumstances arise and the elimination of this flexibility would drastically hinder their ability to do business.
The operation of more productive trucks can reduce the number of miles needed to deliver the nation’s freight. This would reduce the industry’s crash exposure, lower energy use and emissions, decrease freight transportation costs and minimize pavement deterioration. Congress should give states more flexibility to enact truck size and weight regulations that meet the important and legitimate financial goals of U.S. businesses, while also addressing the equally important and legitimate concerns of federal and state government agencies and officials who seek to safeguard public safety, promote air quality goals and protect their investments in highway infrastructure.
AFTC supports ATA’s policy of increasing truck weight limits on 5-axle trailers to 88k pounds and 97k pounds on 6-axles. Support an increase in weights for both lumber and livestock industries, as their cargo tends to be much heavier than the average operation.