The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration published an interim final rule (IFR) in late 2020 on the definition of the terms “any agricultural commodity,” “livestock,” and “non-processed food,” for purposes of hours of service (HOS) regulations. These new definitions clearly impact ag transport, but also determine which trucks without agricultural loads may qualify to bypass the Florida agricultural inspection stations.

Current HOS regulations exempt drivers transporting agricultural commodities, including livestock, from the source of the commodities to a location within 150 air miles. In addition, the 30-minute rest break requirement does not apply to drivers transporting livestock in interstate commerce while their truck is carrying livestock.

So, the definitions that describe “agricultural commodities” and “livestock” matter to those drivers and motor carriers. Those same definitions also matter greatly to commercial vehicle law enforcement officers, who seek clarity and uniformity when applying HOS rules.

In response to this interim final rule, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) filed a petition for reconsideration, that urges FMCSA to make the following changes to the IFR:

  • Clarify that a driver does not qualify for this exemption if any part of the cargo in a mixed load does not meet the agricultural commodity definition.
  • Provide additional details on the extent to which a raw agricultural product can be altered before being considered processed.
  • Require drivers to annotate in their electronic logging devices (ELDs) when they are operating under an exemption as a result of hauling an agricultural commodity or livestock.

While this is interesting, chances are most readers don’t haul agricultural products or livestock, however defined, and may think this doesn’t apply to them. But if you operate into Florida, it matters greatly. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) runs agricultural inspection stations that closely examine trucks coming into the state.

As with inspections at weigh stations, agricultural inspections can cost you time and money. With PrePass, carriers have the opportunity to bypass those Florida ag inspections. Go to the PrePass website and download the PrePass Ag application. PrePass Ag is available as a free add-on service to a PrePass or PrePass Plus account.

PrePass Ag is only available to motor carriers who do not haul the agricultural and livestock products that FDACS regulates. That is why the FMCSA definition of “agricultural commodity” matters to you. Another way PrePass keeps you fully informed for safe and efficient operations.