“Agricultural commodity” Exception in 49 CFR 395.1(k)(1) to the Hours of Service Regulations.
With the beginning application of the ELD rule and the recent publicity of new additional regulatory guidance on agricultural commodities many carriers are first becoming aware of this hours of service exemption.
The agricultural commodity exception has been in effect since Aug 10th, 2005 as found in the congressional act called SAFETEA-LU. This was the beginning of the exception and it allowed any carrier for hire or not to transport agricultural commodities within a 100amr during the planting and harvesting period.
On July 6th, 2012 Map 21 was signed and it revised these allowances and increased the distance to 150amr
The definition of Agricultural Commodity is found in 49CFR Part 395.2 as indicated below:
Agricultural commodity means any agricultural commodity, nonprocessed food, feed, fiber, or livestock (including livestock as defined in sec. 602 of the Emergency Livestock Feed Assistance Act of 1988 [7 U.S.C. 1471] and insects).
When transporting exclusively an agricultural product an exemption exists from the hours of service under certain circumstances called “Agricultural operations”. Those exemptions are found in 49CFR Part 395.1 (k) as indicated below:
(k) Agricultural operations. The provisions of this part shall not apply during planting and harvesting periods, as determined by each State, to drivers transporting
(1) Agricultural commodities from the source of the agricultural commodities to a location within a 150 air-mile radius from the source;
(2) Farm supplies for agricultural purposes 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 150 air-mile radius from the distribution point; or
(3) Farm supplies for agricultural purposes from a wholesale distribution point of the farm supplies to a retail distribution point of the farm supplies within a 150 air-mile radius from the wholesale distribution point.
Farm supplies means products directly related to the growing or harvesting of agricultural commodities during the planting and harvesting seasons within each State, as determined by the State, and livestock feed at any time of the year.
Each State may have varied “planting and harvesting periods” and must be consulted individually. Currently Wisconsin’s is March 15th – December 15th.
New Regulatory Guidance
The below new “Agricultural commodity” regulatory guidance primarily focuses on the application of the 150 air-mile radius exemption for the transportation of agricultural commodities, 49 CFR 395.1(k)(1). It does not address “farm supplies for agricultural purposes” under § 395.1(k)(2) or (3).
Question 34: Does the agricultural commodity exception ( 395.1(k)(1)) apply to drivers while driving unloaded within 150 air-miles of the place where an agricultural commodity will be loaded, and to that portion of an unloaded return trip which occurs within a 150 air-mile radius of the place where the agricultural commodity was loaded?
Guidance: Yes, provided that the trip does not involve transporting any non agricultural cargo and the sole purpose of the trip is to make a pick-up or delivery of agricultural commodities, as defined in § 395.2. In that case, driving and on-duty time are not limited, nor do other requirements of 49 CFR part 395 apply
Question 35: Does the agricultural commodity exception ( 395.1(k)(1)) apply if the destination for the commodity is beyond the 150 air-mile radius from the source?
Guidance: Yes, the exception applies to transportation during the initial 150 airmiles from the source of the commodity, regardless of the distance to the final destination. Once a driver operates beyond the 150 air-mile radius of the source, 49 CFR part 395 applies. The driver is then subject to the limits under the hours-of-service rules and must record those hours. Once the hours-of-service rules begin to apply on a given trip, they continue to apply for the duration of that trip, until the driver crosses back into the area within 150 air-miles of the original source of the commodities..
Question 36: How is the "source" of the agricultural commodities in § 395.1(k)(1) determined?
Guidance: The "source" of an agricultural commodity, as the term is used in § 395.1(k)(1), is the point at which an agricultural commodity is loaded onto an unladen commercial motor vehicle. The location may be any intermediate storage or handling location away from the original source at the farm or field, provided the commodity retains its original form and is not significantly changed by any processing or packing.
If a driver is making multiple trips, the first trip, and the 150 air-mile exception around that source, terminate once all agricultural products are offloaded at a delivery point. A new source for a new trip may then be identified, and the 150 air-mile radius for the exception will be around that source.
Question 37: How is the "source of the agricultural commodities" determined if the driver makes multiple pick-ups of the commodity en route to the final destination?
Guidance: When a driver loads some of an agricultural commodity at a "source“ and then loads more of that commodity at additional stops, the first place where the commodity was loaded is the measuring point for the 150 air-mile radius.
Additional Information; https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/hours-service/elds/agricultural-commodity