The United States Department of Transportation has extended the agricultural exemption for the electronic logging device mandate another 90 days.

The exemption came earlier this month just before the original exemption was set to expire on March 18.

The federal mandate requiring commercial motor vehicles to be equipped with ELDs is a part of the “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century” bill that was passed by Congress in 2012.

An ELD logs a driver’s hours on the road and replaces the handwritten logs traditionally used by truckers. The ELD records drive time and lets the driver know when he has reached the maximum legally allowed time behind the wheel of 11 hours in a 14-hour period. Drivers are required to take a mandatory 10-hour rest after reaching the time limit. Any infractions are recorded by the ELD and drivers in violation can be fined.

The United States Department of Transportation requires a commercial driver’s license for anyone involved in interstate commerce that drives a truck or truck and trailer with a weight over 26,000. Many one-ton pickup trucks with large, loaded livestock trailers fall into this category. ELDs will be required for any of these vehicles.

The mandate has been a grave concern to farmers and livestock owners. Farmers are concerned about increased costs and animal welfare.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue was supportive of the U.S. DOT’s decision.

“The ELD mandate imposes restrictions upon the agriculture industry that lack flexibility necessary for the unique realities of hauling agricultural commodities. If the agriculture industry had been forced to comply by the March 18 deadline, live agricultural commodities, including plants and animals, would have been at risk of perishing before they reached their destination,” Perdue said in a statement last. “While public safety is a critical concern for all of trucking, the safety of living agricultural commodities in transport must also be considered.”

The Virginia Farm Bureau and Virginia Horse Council have been opposed to the mandate citing concerns about animal welfare and burdensome regulations and costs for farmers and small business owners.

Local cattle farmer Clay Jackson has been concerned about the mandate and has expressed concern about increasing the cost and animal welfare.

“This is going to increase the costs of shipping cattle. We will be forced to run two drivers, doubling labor costs. What is even worse is the mandatory rest. You can’t leave cattle on the truck but loading and unloading is stressful for the cattle and exposes them to disease. It’s not humane and puts animals at risk.”

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