The Agricultural Retailers Association today asked the U.S. Department of Transportation to delay implementation of Electronic Logging Device rules.
"ARA is concerned that many agribusinesses are not, and will not be fully prepared to meet the December 18, 2017, compliance deadline," says Richard Gupton, Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Counsel for ARA. "Moreover, ELD manufacturers may not be able to accommodate existing Hours of Service exemptions currently being utilized by agricultural retailers and distributors."
ARA requested the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration delay ELD enforcement for one year. The request was made in conjunction with a coalition of transportation stakeholders, including the National Corn Growers Association, National Grain and Feed Association, U.S. Cattleman's Association and Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, during a meeting earlier today at the National Press Club.
Agricultural retailers play an important role in feeding the world. ARA members provide farmers with essential crop input materials such as seed, fertilizer, crop protection products and equipment. Our industry has a strong commitment to vehicle safety and supports FMCSA's mission to reduce crashes, injuries and fatalities involving large trucks.
The current process allows for self-certification by ELD manufacturers without a robust third-party screening process. Even though FMCSA is unwilling to certify ELD devices, there are manufacturers in the marketplace claiming their ELD product is "FMCSA Certified."
To become a Certified Medical Examiner, which performs driver medical exams, FMCSA requires medical examiners to enroll, complete necessary training, and pass a certification test. A Medical Examiner must receive notification of certification from FMCSA before authorized to perform driver exams. A similarly stringent process needs to be established by FMCSA for ELD manufacturers so the industry has full confidence that the systems they purchase will be compliant with new regulations.
ARA is also concerned with the unnecessary costs ELD systems impose on our industry without any proven safety benefits. ELDs can cost from $200 to $1,000 each for the device, as well as the costs related to maintenance, service contracts with manufacturers or vendors, and driver training to use this new equipment. This requirement adds unnecessary financial burden to an agricultural industry already struggling with in a soft economy, lagging commodity prices and the massive economic losses following Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, as well as other weather-related disasters.
Ag retailers urge Secretary Chao and the Trump Administration to delay the pending December 18, 2017, compliance deadline given the many implementation issues facing our industry and other impacted stakeholders.
ARA supports efforts by livestock producers seeking a delay and additional clarifications regarding ELD exemptions and waivers. Stakeholders within and outside the agricultural industry are also negatively impacted by the ELD mandate, which only highlights shortcomings in the HOS regulations.
A delay to resolve these important issues would fully align with President Trump's regulatory reform initiatives while not impacting transportation safety of our nation's roads and highways.