VALLEY — On Tuesday the Department of Transportation announced an additional 90-day extension of the agriculture exemption from the Electronic Logging Devices mandate. This means, for the moment, that truck drivers hauling livestock and similar cargo do not have to comply with DOT’s hours-of-service regulation, which limits driving hours to only 11 hours after being off duty for more than 10 consecutive hours.
Since the clock runs even if the truck is idling, the logging would potentially cause more harm than good.
"The ELD mandate imposes restrictions upon the agriculture industry that lack flexibility necessary for the unique realities of hauling agriculture commodities," said United States Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue in a press release. "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.
"Current ELD technologies do not recognize the hours-of-service exemptions for agriculture that are in federal law. This is a classic example of a one-size-fits-all federal regulation that ignores common sense to the detriment of sectors like agriculture."
A group of truckers, farmers and ranchers approached the San Luis Valley County Commissioners Association in January, urging them to help with the situation. At the meeting the association approved sending a letter to Third Congressional District Representative Scott Tipton, Sens. Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner and the Colorado Department of Agriculture asking for a longer waiver or permanent exemption from the ELD mandate.
"This is good news for us in the rural community," said Rio Grande County Commissioner Karla Shriver, chair of the SLVCCA, in an email Wednesday.