ARA recently received an official letter from Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Administrator Raymond Martinez denying ARA’s petition which requested that all transporters of agricultural farm supplies be deemed exempt from the agency’s new Electronic Logging Device (ELD) requirements to record their hours of service (HOS) (49 CFR 395.8(a)(1)). In its denial letter, FMSCA stated that it was “unable to determine from the application and from the public comments submitted to the Agency if the operations under the exemption would likely achieve a level of safety equivalent to, or greater than, the level that would be achieved by the current regulation.”
Administrator Martinez indicated that “many of the operations described in your (ARA’s) application and letter of January 29 are already excepted from the ELD rule”. In the letter, he also stated that current FMCSA regulations exempt carriers from the ELD requirement if they –
- Do not exceed a 100 air-mile operating radius for more than 8 days during any 30-day period (49 CFR 395.1(a)(1)(iii)(A)(l)); or
- Are transporting “agricultural commodities” or “farm supplies for agricultural purposes” within a 150 air-mile radius of the source of the commodities or distribution point for the farm supplies. Those carriers are NOT required to comply with the HOS regulations or to use ELDs (49 CFR 395.1(k)).
FMSCA’s letter contains no requirement that “planting and harvesting seasons as determined by each state” is a factor regarding the ELD exemption. No miles driven inside the 150 air-mile (equals 172.6 statute miles) radius count toward the HOS calculations and only miles where the driver operates outside that designated radius count toward HOS. Once the driver is back inside the designated radius, the HOS ag exemption kicks back in
ARA recommends members require their drivers to maintain a copy of Administrator Martinez’s letter with them in the truck at all times in case they are stopped by a state enforcement official. Including information to show proof the driver is operating within the 150 air-mile radius of the distribution point of the farm supplies is also recommended.