WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators David Perdue (R-GA) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) are leading a bipartisan effort to level the playing field for the transportation of agricultural products. The Agricultural Trucking Relief Act will expand the definition of an “agricultural commodity” to include horticultural and aquacultural products, promote consistency across all federal and state agencies, and ease regulatory burdens on the trucking industry. This bill is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Jim Inhofe (R-OK).
“Small business operators, especially those shipping products that require immediate delivery—like flowers and trees—should not be in the dark about which shipping regulations apply to them,” said Senator Merkley, ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture. “Yet confusingly, some goods that are recognized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency as ‘agricultural commodities’ are not eligible for the same transportation exemptions as other agricultural products. This bipartisan legislation is a necessary step forward in clarifying trucking rules, to make sure businesses in every sector of Oregon’s agriculture industry have the same ability to deliver their products while they’re still fresh.”
“American truckers play a key role in transporting agricultural goods across the country, so they shouldn’t have to navigate confusing shipping regulations,” said Senator Perdue, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. “Right now, certain crops, animals, and other farm products that are considered an ‘agricultural commodity’ are treated differently the minute they are put on a truck. That makes no sense. This bipartisan bill will clarify the trucking rules, so agricultural products can be delivered further and faster.”
“We need this bill to clarify which trucking rules apply to certain agriculture commodities. For example, our catfish producers are held to different standards once their product is loaded onto a truck for shipping. This is an unnecessary federal burden that needs to be fixed,” said Senator Hyde-Smith, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee.
“I’m proud to support Georgia’s number one industry and ensure that all of Georgia’s agriculture products are treated equally under federal transportation regulations,” said Senator Isakson. “This legislation will provide clarity for Georgia’s farmers, producers and truck drivers.”
“Florida’s diverse agriculture industry plays a vital role in our state’s economy and in feeding our nation,” said Senator Rubio. “I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing the Agricultural Trucking Relief Act, which seeks to provide clarity and fairness for all agricultural commodities that are subject to federal trucking regulations.”
“With this legislation, Oklahoma farmers will no longer be forced to comply with some of the burdensome and unnecessary regulations they have had to deal with while transporting their products over the years,” said Senator Inhofe. “Oklahoma is rightfully recognized as and benefits from being one of the nation’s leading transportation hubs—Oklahoma agricultural truckers are a big reason for this. I’ve long fought to reduce burdensome hours of service regulations and I am proud to introduce this today for the Oklahoma agricultural community. I will continue to fight in Congress to make it easier for them to get their jobs done.”
Currently, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the agency responsible for administering agricultural trucking laws, excludes horticulture products, such as greenhouse, nursery, ornamental, and turfgrass sod, from the list of defined “agricultural commodities” under transportation rules. Expanding the definition of an agricultural commodity will relieve regulatory burdens on the trucking industry, while also streamlining rules across the FMCSA, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and all other federal and state agencies.
The Agricultural Trucking Relief Act was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on March 12, 2019 by U.S. Representatives Austin Scott (R-GA-08), Al Lawson (D-FL-05), Neal Dunn (R-FL-02), and Kurt Schrader (D-OR-05).
Click here for bill text.