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March 9, 2018

FMCSA clarifications page and TN bill to defund ELD enforcement


American Horse Council's Cliff Williamson's Talking Points on ELD-CDL

Annotated Talking Points for CDL-ELD

  • Biosecurity, Welfare and General Health Concerns
  • Industry/Law Enforcement Official (LEO) confusion over applicability
    • Continued DOT delays prove regulator/stakeholder confusion
  • Business disruption as other states offer “free zones” from ELD enforcement
    • Loss of competitive advantage vs opportunity to gain advantage
  • Importance of agricultural friendly policy
  • Outdate, unchanging HOS regulations and weight descriptors
  • Protect LEO from negative public perception
  • Allow stakeholders time to self-identify business requirements
  • Confusing, non-transferable CDL and non-CDL endorsement/designations
  • Cost concerns tied to test requirements, insurance coverage, and equipment

Tennessee Bill to defund ELD enforcement


            FMCSA Recreational Horse Hauler clarifications


American Horse Council's Cliff Williamson's Talking Points on ELD-CDL

"My name is Cliff Williamson and I am the Director of Health and Regulatory Affairs for the American Horse Council. The American Horse Council was organized in 1969 to represent the horse industry in Washington before Congress and the federal regulatory agencies.  It is a non-profit corporation that represents all segments of the equine industry. Our mission is to advocate for the social, economic and legislative interests of the United States equine industry.

According to the 2017 American Horse Council Economic Impact Study the U.S. equine industry has a direct economic impact of $50 billion annually, with a $122 billion indirect impact on GDP per year. This substantial impact is directly tied to the freedom with which animals can be transported to and from events. This critical aspect of our industry has evolved over the last 30 years to better serve the health and welfare of both the animals being hauled and the drivers responsible for those animals. Part of that evolution includes the very vehicles themselves. Technology has progressed by leaps and bounds, from the wide spread adoption of anti-locking brakes, electronic sensors that can identify obstacles and near-by vehicles, cameras and screens that can display blind spots to the driver, to the width and material makeup of tire and wheels. Unfortunately, the regulations with which these vehicles are regulated have not kept pace with this growth.

The established ELD mandate has started a nationwide conversation regarding the equine industry’s place within the current Commercial Motor Vehicle regulations, specifically concerning the requirements for Commercial Driver’s License compliance. While these regulations are not new, enforcement has remained low, to the point where the public has now consistent knowledge of their expectations for compliance. The common assumption within our industry is that the hauling of freight as the primary purpose of the trip is the first step in needing a CDL. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

Over the last few months, both the American Horse Council and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration have worked to educate the public as to what is expected of them to be in compliance. This effort has been very effective in relieving the fears of the segments of our industry that readily identify as recreational. We are here today to address the concerns of those who are not so quick to dismiss their activities as a hobby.

The Electronic Logging Device mandate has raised concerns about the potential for the existing Hours of Service regulations to directly interfere with the efforts of our owners and haulers to prioritize the general health, welfare and biosecurity of the specific animals being transported, as well as the overall status of our national herd health. The industry led Equine Disease Communication Center is part of the American Horse Council’s efforts to protect and preserve our animal’s health and biosecurity. I encourage each of you to visit the website equinediseasecc.org and take note of the alerts for contagious disease outbreaks that we report there.   Totals for 2018 alone already include 55 alerts posted reporting on 45 outbreaks/cases in 16 states. They include;

  • Eastern Equine Encephalitis: 2 cases (FL)
  • Equine Herpesvirus: 25 outbreaks (2 in NY, 1 in MD, 4 in VA, 1 in OR, 4 in ID, 4 in

PA, 3 in KY, 2 in OH, 1 in WY, 2 in AZ)

  • Strangles: 12 outbreaks (7 in FL, 1 in CA, 2 in GA, 1 in VA, 1 in MI)
  • Equine Infectious Anemia: 2 cases (TX)
  • Equine Influenza: 2 outbreaks (GA and AZ)

It is critical that our owners and riders are able to quickly by-pass these potential dangerous areas as information is made available to them. Unfortunately the regulations as written do not allow for that kind of flexibility.

There is considerable industry confusion that persists to this day, which undoubtedly is shared by Law Enforcement Officers as well, concerning the applicability of the of both CDL and ELD laws to the equine industry. As such, compliance will continue to be low, and this confusion will continue to have adverse effects on event managers, who will suffer from decreased participation, product manufacturers who will see a drop in consumer purchases, and even to equine enthusiast, which includes nearly 30.5% of U.S. households, as animals are pulled from competitions and exhibitions. This loss to our economic potential will be felt for years to come if this issue is not quickly addressed.

This issue has already mobilized state legislative action to limit the negative effect of these regulations. Tennessee has language in committees on both sides of their legislature to defund ELD enforcement activities, effectively creating a “Free Zone”. This designation will undoubtedly pressure neighboring states to adopt similar language to avoid the loss of their own competitive advantage. Alternatively, some states may proactively join adjoining states in their efforts and create “Free Zone” corridors. These corridors may have far reaching implications the longer this issue remains confusing at the federal level. There are opportunities here for states to publically affirm the importance of the agricultural industry by developing an agricultural “friendly” environment.

The regulations governing the allowable hours of service (HOS) are based on 1937 regulations from the Interstate Commerce Commission. Changes have been made three times since, most notably to the driving window within which individuals are able to utilize their time and the implementation of the “Restart” period. The Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986 defined the portions of the CDL regulations concerning weight ranges for commercial motor vehicles. All of these regulations have failed to adapt to the changing situations that US drivers find themselves in. Due to the non-intuitive nature of these regulations, enforcement has been low for the livestock community. This lack of enforcement history has created an environment of non-compliance which is the basis for the recent uproar from the agricultural community. The public feels the true intent of the regulations that exist were targeted at Long Combined Vehicles (LCV), or a traditional tractor-trailer combination. This segment of the population has decided that this perceived overreach with regard to CMV designation needs to be rectified, which will then cause the ELD issue to go away.

An important point to be made is that a delay in enforcement, followed by a repeal or permanent exemption, is critical to protecting the law enforcement community from the negative public perception of targeting or hindering the local agricultural community. How is the standard law enforcement officer expected to react to an animal welfare situation on the side of the highway, especially if that situation results in the death of said animal? This could be a particularly difficult situation should the cause of the stop or delay to be proven incorrect or the citation to be viewed as inconsequential. We have a responsibility to the state level law enforcement community to provide clarity of purpose, and until such time as those clarifications are available, state governments should provide a way to opt out for their officers.

That time is equally significant to the agricultural community who need to self-identify their own business status. While the clarifications are clear excluding “recreational” equestrians from the CDL regulations, there are still significant concerns for individuals who classify themselves as a business, but could easily revert back to recreational should that option be less restrictive. These decisions are not taken lightly, and with the abrupt nature of the ELD mandate publication, our industry has not had enough time to weigh the implications. Those implications include the time needed to obtain appropriate certification.

Those certifications are a concurrent concern to the industry as well. Disparate state CDL regulations, specifically non-CDL endorsements, confuse inter-state operators and provide false equivalency, “muddying the waters”. While states are able to provide clear descriptors to their citizens, and reciprocity agreements between states do exist, the majority of the public are unaware of the subtle nuances of DOT regulations, and are unaware of how it all connects. Also since the 150 air mile rule allows for inter-state agricultural related commerce to occur without a CDL, how are state officials to know who to detain? Is the intention to detain all out of state drivers? If not, as we can assume to be the case, is there a way to ease concerns of both the agricultural and law enforcement communities? 

In closing, it is important to note that the segment of the livestock industry who are hauling animals in personally owned trailers with their “pickup” style tow unit are in large part exempt from the CDL and ELD regulations under the exemptions that exist today. It is entirely possible that many farm and ranch owners never need fear citation due to a lack of enforcement or an abundance of exemptions. Unfortunately, due to the fluid nature of the agricultural industry, and the critical aspect of travel for the equine sector, more and more people will fall through the cracks. It is incumbent on those with the power to do so to step up and address these individuals who will be forced to operate in this grey area.

I encourage state governments to investigate a possible ELD exemption for the hauling of non-hazardous agricultural commodities. Also use this time to reiterate the livestock designation of the equids within your state. Encourage your state leaders to provide “Covered Farm Vehicle” exemptions from CDL regulations to horse trailers and equine tow vehicles.

Please contact the American Horse Council with any questions or comments."


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