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Transporting farm supplies? Time may be on your side

Effective October 1, 2012, the U.S. Department of Transportation alerted motor carriers of a statutory exemption included in the MAP-21 Transportation Legislation which provides an exemption from the hours-of-service regulations for carriers transporting agricultural commodities and farm supplies.

This means that the hours of service exemption was extended to deliveries from wholesalers located at terminal facilities to either farm retailers or farms within a 100 air-mile radius of the source. Additionally, transportation from a retail distribution point of farm supplies to a location within a 100 air-mile radius of the retail distribution point is also exempted.

The Legislative history of the agricultural exemption indicates that Congress intended to limit the agricultural exemption to retail distributors of farm supplies. Accordingly, second-stage movements, such as grain hauled from an elevator to a processing plant, are probably not exempt.

MAP-21 of the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999 reads as follows:

"(1) TRANSPORTATION OF AGRICULTURAL COMMODITES AND FARM SUPPLIES - Regulations prescribed by the Secretary under sections 31136 and 31502 regarding the maximum driving and on-duty time for drivers used by motor carriers shall not apply during planting and harvest periods, as determined by each State, to -

(A) drivers transporting agricultural commodities in the State from the source of the agricultural commodities to a location within a 100 air-mile radius from the source;

(B) drivers transporting farm supplies for agricultural purposes in the State from a wholesale or retail distribution point of the farm supplies to a farm or other location where the farm supplies are intended to be used within a 100 air-mile radius from the distribution point; or

(C) drivers transporting farm supplies for agricultural purposes in the State from a wholesale distribution point of the farm supplies to a retail distribution point of the farm supplies within a 100 air-mile radius from the wholesale distribution point."

The exemption is available when the State determines that it is planting or harvesting time. Texas has designated January 1 through December 31 of each year as planting and harvesting season-therefore, the exemption is year around in Texas.

However, confusion remains over the application of the agricultural hours-of-service exemption. The exemption has yet to be codified in the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Regulations; regulations which themselves have yet to be codified in the Texas Administrative Code.

If you haul farm supplies, what do you need to know?

1. Keep a copy of the FMCSA alert of the amendment in your truck. You may need it to show that the driver is not subject to the normal hours-of-service restrictions because he is transporting farm supplies.

2. A trip must be completely related to agricultural commodities. To qualify for the exemption, a trip must be 100% related to the transportation of agricultural commodities from a distribution point that qualifies for the exemption. A stop at a manufacturing plant would be a blended trip that may not qualify for the exemption.

3. Questions? As with any new legislation, it is important to know if you qualify under the exemption. Make sure you contact your attorney for advice on whether the exemption applies to you.

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The Bassett Firm

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