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FMCSA Clarifies Agricultural Commodity & Livestock Definitions

U.S. agricultural commodity and livestock haulers will be pleased to know that the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published a Final Rule clarifying agricultural commodity and livestock definitions in Part 395—Hours of Service of Drivers.

Currently, during harvesting and planting seasons as determined by each state, drivers transporting agricultural commodities, including livestock, would be exempt from the hours of service (HOS) requirements from the source of the commodities to a location within a 150 air mile radius from the source.

Furthermore, the HOS requirement for a 30-minute rest break did not apply to drivers transporting livestock in interstate commerce while the livestock are on a commercial motor vehicle. Therefore, since the new HOS rule expands the definition of ‘livestock,’ it will also add to the list of drivers who will be exempt from the requirement of a 30-minute rest break under section 395.1(v).

FMCSA published this new HOS rule to clarify the meaning of these existing definitions to ensure that the exemptions are utilized and are easily understood by motor carriers, while being interpreted consistently by the enforcement community when determining whether such an exemption applies.

FMCSA built upon the current definition of ‘agricultural commodity’.

  • The existing definition of ‘agricultural commodity’ was “any agricultural commodity, non-processed food, feed, fiber, or livestock.”
  • ‘Agricultural commodity’ will also include horticultural products at risk of perishing, or degrading in quality, during transport by commercial motor vehicle, including plants, sod, flowers, shrubs, ornamentals, seedlings, live trees, and Christmas trees.

FMCSA also amended the definition of ‘livestock’ in sec. 602 of the Emergency Livestock Feed Assistance Act of 1988.

  • The existing definition of ‘livestock’ was “cattle, elk, reindeer, bison, horses, deer, sheep, goats, swine, poultry (including egg-producing poultry), llamas, alpacas, live fish, crawfish, and other animals that are part of a foundation herd (including dairy producing cattle) or offspring.”
  • ‘Livestock’ will now also include “insects, and all other living animals cultivated, grown or raised for commercial purposes, including aquatic animals.”

Finally, FMCSA also clarified the definition of ‘non-processed food.’

  • ‘Non-processed food’ means “food commodities in a raw or natural state and not subjected to significant post-harvest changes to enhance shelf life, such as canning, jarring, freezing, or drying.”
  • ‘Non-processed food’ also includes “fresh fruits and vegetables, and cereal and oilseed crops which have been minimally processed by cleaning, cooling, trimming, cutting, chopping, shucking, bagging, or packaging to facilitate transport by commercial motor vehicle.”

The changes will go into effect 15 days after the rule is published in the Federal Register, which is expected to happen in the very near future.

To read the final rule on agricultural commodity clarifications, please visit: