Source: Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA)
Thursday, the Department of Transportation's (DOT) Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) granted a two-year limited exemption of the hours of service (HOS) rule for transporting anhydrous ammonia.
ARA, with assistance from Congressmen Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.) and Sam Graves (R-Mo.), and other national and state trade organizations, worked with FMCSA to secure the two-year waiver.
The exemption applies to the movement of anhydrous ammonia from the terminal to the retail facility or the terminal directly to the farm, within 100 air miles. The current HOS agriculture exemption still applies to the movement of all farm supplies from the agricultural retailer to the farm customer, within 100 air miles. The limited exemption outlines the proposed terms and conditions of the exemption, including the need for all drivers to have a "satisfactory" rating or be "unrated" in order to qualify.
"ARA appreciates FMCSA's recognition of the importance that timing plays in the transportation of anhydrous ammonia during the busy planting and harvest season. However, by not including all farm supplies we believe FMCSA continues to misinterpret Congressional intent of the agricultural exemption," said ARA president and CEO Daren Coppock. "ARA will continue to work with FMCSA, industry and Congress to ensure the exemption is correctly interpreted and does not become burdensome to the ag retail and distribution industry."
Graves and Luetkemeyer view the decision as a positive for agriculture, but agrees with ARA that the decision falls short of meeting the industry's needs. "This is great news for the agriculture community and ensures the timely delivery of farming supplies to our hard-working family farmers," Luetkemeyer said. "I will continue to fight for a permanent solution to the hours-of-service issue, and will continue to work with Secretary LaHood and the Department of Transportation to address other concerns of farm families and rural America."
"I am pleased FMCSA granted this two-year waiver for the transportation of anhydrous ammonia. This is a significant step in the right direction, especially following the 90-day waiver my colleagues and I pushed for and received back in March. Missouri farmers now know they have access to this fertilizer whenever they need it. I believe this waiver successfully balances the need for quick delivery with the requirement that anhydrous ammonia be transported safely. This is major victory for America's farmers, but I will continue to push for a permanent resolution to this issue," Graves said.
To view FMCSA's final determination on the two-year exemption please click here.