Several equine industry groups and associations are urging horsemen to speak out against an impending law they say could negatively impact transportation of horses and other livestock.
Known as the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate, the law limits the amount of time a commercial truck driver can drive, regulates on duty/off duty time and requires the use of ELDs to track driving and non-drive time.
The new rules were originally scheduled to go into effect on Dec. 18, but the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has given those who haul agricultural commodities, which includes horses, a 90-day waiver before they have to comply with the law.
Two industry groups, the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) and American Horse Council (AHC), joined other agricultural organizations in requesting the Department of Transportation grant a one-year delay in enforcing the rules.
Additionally, both organizations asked for a waiver and limited exemptions from compliance. The AQHA expressed particular concern about ELD rules governing hours of service, which would require a driver take several hours of off-road time during long trips.
“AQHA and other livestock organizations are concerned about the regulation requiring 10 consecutive hours off duty and how that will affect the welfare of animals being transported,” the AQHA said in a statement. “Livestock industry guidelines recommend that drivers avoid stops when hauling livestock, as stopping for long periods of time would have a detrimental effect on the animals being hauled.”
“AQHA members are involved in showing, racing, ranching, rodeos and recreation,” AQHA Executive Vice President Craig Huffhines said in a letter outlining his concerns to the Department of Transportation. “We encourage the Department of Transportation to grant a one-year enforcement delay, followed by a waiver and limited exemptions from compliance with the Dec. 18, 2017, 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.”
The National Cattlemens Beef Association, National Pork Producers Council and the American Sheep Industry Association also have expressed concerns about the impact of ELD on the transportation of livestock. Those thoughts were echoed by the AHC, a Washington, D.C.-based group that advocates for the horse industry.
In addition to the concerns about impact on animals being hauled, the AHC also believes the ELD system will not increase safety over the current use of paper logs, citing a study by the FMCSA and National Highway Traffic Safety Institute that showed livestock transporters accounted for less than 1 percent of more than 1,000 crashes analyzed in the report.
The AHC said a one-year delay is necessary to spread the word about details of the rules, saying few horse owners are aware of the ELD rules and their impact.
“More time is needed to reach out to the horse industry and ensure that industry outreach can address ELD compliance and ELD impact,” the AHC said in a statement.
For its part, the AQHA urged members to contact their Congressional representatives and ask them to support a House appropriations bill that would give livestock haulers a one-year exemption to the ELD mandate.
Other industry groups, such as Protect The Harvest, the National Cutting Horse Association and the National Reining Horse Association, also are urging horse and livestock owners to contact lawmakers and spread the word about the ELD mandate to other equine enthusiasts and livestock haulers.