The Montana Stockgrowers Association applauded the introduction of the Transporting Livestock Across America Safely (TLAAS) Act, noting this legislation would ensure animal welfare and the safety of livestock haulers. The bill was introduced last week by U.S. Sens. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Jerry Moran of Kansas, John Hoeven of North Dakota, Jon Tester of Montana, Joni Ernst of Iowa, Marco Rubio of Florida, Tina Smith of Minnesota, Pat Roberts of Kansas, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Doug Jones of Alabama. Following the introduction, U.S. Sen. Steve Daines has also signed on as a cosponsor.
“We would like to thank Sens. Tester and Daines for cosponsoring this common-sense piece of legislation. The current Hours of Service rules for livestock haulers present serious challenges for our industry and jeopardize the health and well-being of livestock,” said Bryan Mussard President of the Montana Stockgrowers Association. “This has been a priority of the Association and an issue we have worked on relentlessly.”
Starting Oct. 1, Livestock haulers are scheduled to have to start using Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) to track their driving times and distances. Under current rules, they would be required to turn on their ELDs after crossing out of the 150-air-mile radius from their loading point, after which they can only drive for 11 hours before taking a mandatory 10-hour break. This 11-hour drive time with mandatory 10-hour rest would mean cattle from Montana would not make it to destinations in Nebraska and Kansas without having a mandatory rest period, this puts the animals at risk.
The TLAAS Act takes into full consideration the fact that there are living and breathing animals on the trailer that must be kept moving, and that they must get to their destination as quickly and as safely as possible. This bill provides for more drive time for livestock haulers, as well as granting the flexibility for drivers to rest at any point during the trip without the break counting against HOS time. This bill also allows for another 150-air-mile exemption on the back end of a livestock haul to account for the wait time that occurs when unloading live animals.
MSGA met with the U.S. Department of Transportation last year to raise concerns about the effect the ELDs and the Hours of Service will have on animal husbandry. MSGA will continue to follow this legislation as it moves through the process and will work with Montana’s congressional delegation to pass this critical piece of legislation.
The Montana Stockgrowers Association, a non-profit organization representing nearly 2,500 members, strives to serve, protect and advance the economic, political, environmental and cultural interests of cattle producers, the largest sector of Montana’s number one industry – agriculture.