The Ins and Outs of Agricultural Exemptions

Are you involved in the transportation of agricultural commodities? If so, it’s essential to stay informed about the exemptions that may apply to you. In this article, we’ll explore the ins and outs of agricultural exemptions, providing you with valuable insights to navigate the rules and regulations. So, let’s dive in!

Understanding the Exemptions

The Department of Transportation (DOT) has established exemptions to the Hours of Service (HOS) rules for drivers involved in the transportation of agricultural commodities. These exemptions apply to a variety of commodities, including livestock, bees, horses, and fish used for food, among others.

HOS Exemptions within a 150 Air-Mile Radius

According to 49 CFR § 395.1(k), drivers operating within a 150 air-mile radius from the source of the commodities are exempt from the HOS rules. This exemption also covers the transport of farm supplies for agricultural purposes. Whether you’re a private or for-hire carrier, if you operate solely within this radius, you are not limited by work and driving hours. Additionally, you are not required to use an Electronic Logging Device (ELD) or keep paper logs.

However, once you go beyond the 150 air-mile radius, the HOS regulations come into effect. At this point, you must maintain logs using an ELD unless you qualify for one of the limited ELD exemptions. It’s crucial to be aware of these regulations and ensure compliance when operating outside the exempted radius.

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ELD Exemptions

The use of ELDs is a requirement for most drivers. However, there are some exemptions for those involved in the transportation of agricultural commodities. Here are a few instances where ELD usage may not be necessary:

  1. Vehicles Manufactured Before 2000: If the vehicle you’re using was manufactured before the model year 2000, you are not required to use an ELD. Instead, you can prepare paper logs to maintain a record of your activities.

  2. Limited Operation within the 150 Air-Mile Radius: If you don’t operate outside of the 150 air-mile radius for more than eight days within a 30-day period, you are exempt from using an ELD. However, on the days when you are not exempt, you must prepare paper logs to document your work and driving hours.

  3. Covered Farm Vehicles: Covered farm vehicles, as defined in 49 CFR 390.39, are also exempt from the HOS regulations. This exemption applies to private transportation of agricultural commodities, machinery, and supplies to or from a farm or ranch by the owner, operator, family members, or employees. If you fall under this exemption, you are not required to have an ELD.

ELD Compliance and Agricultural Exemptions

When operating within the 150 air-mile radius, it’s essential to properly record your activities on the ELD or refrain from logging in altogether. Here’s what you need to know:

  • If you choose to log into the ELD and identify your movement as authorized personal use, make sure to annotate on the ELD that the movement is exempt per the agriculture exemption. When you exit the 150 air-mile radius, the ELD should record the movement as on-duty driving.

  • Alternatively, if you decide not to log into the ELD while operating within the exempted radius, you must log in and identify the movement as on-duty driving when you go beyond the 150 air-mile radius. Annotate the ELD to explain that the unassigned miles accumulated prior to that point were exempt miles.

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Remember, as a driver, you have the responsibility to prove that you were legally authorized to claim the agricultural exemption. Keep proper records and ensure compliance with the regulations.

Transferring ELD Data

When required to use an ELD, it’s important to understand the process of transferring data for review by safety officials. Here are the key points:

  • Safety officials will typically transfer ELD data to the Electronic Records of Duty Status (eRODS) software for review. They may use telematics or local transfer options to access the data.

  • If, for any reason, the ELD data cannot be transferred, safety officials may review it directly on the ELD display screen or printout.

  • It’s crucial to note that the responsibility for complying with the HOS rules lies with the driver. While an ELD does not identify violations, you are still accountable for adhering to the regulations.

Stay Informed and Compliant

As a driver involved in the transportation of agricultural commodities, it’s essential to understand the exemptions and regulations that apply to your work. By staying informed and compliant, you can ensure the smooth and efficient transport of these vital commodities while meeting all legal requirements.

For more information and resources on agricultural exemptions and transportation, visit the Ames Farm Center. They provide comprehensive guidance and support for drivers in the industry.