The National Pork Producers Council petitioned the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) back in 2013 for a waiver and exemption from complying with the requirement of truck drivers to take a 30-minute rest break for every 8 hours of service. The groups this spring asked the FMCSA to renew the waiver and to extend it for the two-year maximum allowable under federal law. That waiver was recently granted to hog, cattle and poultry farmers from the U.S. Department of Transportation hours-of-service rule for certain drivers.
In petitioning the agency, the livestock organizations noted that the rule would cause livestock producers and their drivers irreparable harm, place the health and welfare of the livestock in their care at risk and provide no apparent increased benefit to public safety – and likely decrease public safety – while forcing the livestock industry and its drivers to choose between the humane handling of animals or complying with the rule.
The groups also pointed out that the livestock and poultry industries have programs – developed and offered through the U.S. Department of Agriculture – that educate drivers on transportation safety and animal welfare. The pork industry, for example, has the Transport Quality Assurance program.
“This decision will help ensure the continued humane treatment and welfare of livestock while traveling on the nation’s highways,” said NPPC President Dr. Ron Prestage, a veterinarian and pork producer from Camden, S.C. “The waiver will ensure that during hot summer months livestock won’t be sitting in the sun for extended periods, with drivers unable to care for them because they’re required to take a 30-minute break.”
“America’s livestock and poultry farmers are pleased that the FMCSA recognized that its rule would not be practicable for drivers who transport hogs, cattle and poultry,” Prestage said. “We’re grateful for FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro’s recognition of the ongoing commitment of America’s pork, livestock and poultry producers to animal welfare and highway safety.”