Flexibility for livestock and grain hauling

Legislative Watch: HAULS Act modernizes ag exemptions; smaller relief bill; FY '20 federal debt triples; ag trade advisors needed; FSIS seeks nominations.

P. Scott Shearer, Vice President

October 16, 2020

3 Min Read
National Pork Board

The "Haulers of Agricultural and Livestock Safety Act" introduced by Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE) would provide greater flexibility in transporting grain and livestock by modernizing the agricultural exemptions for hours-of-service.

Fischer said in a press release, "Unfortunately, current federal regulations fail to account for the intricacies involved with hauling live animals. The HAULS Act would help mitigate situations where a hauler is forced to choose between compliance with federal law or the health and welfare of the livestock on board."

The HAULS Act would:

  • Eliminate the requirement that agricultural and livestock hours-of-service exemptions only apply during state designated planting and harvesting seasons

  • Amend and clarify the definition of "agricultural commodities" based on feedback provided by agriculture and livestock organizations

  • Authorize a 150 air-mile exemption from HOS requirements on the destination side of a haul for agricultural and livestock haulers

Organizations supporting the legislation include American Farm Bureau Federation, American Sheep Industry, Livestock Marketing Association, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, National Grain and Feed Association and National Pork Producers Council.

Senate to consider smaller relief bill
The Senate next week plans to consider a Republican $500 billion coronavirus relief bill that would include additional funds for Paycheck Protection Program, hospitals and schools. 

Earlier this week President Trump reversed course on the need of another coronavirus aid package when he said it was time to "go big or go home." The administration earlier this week proposed a $1.8 trillion package which has met resistance from Senate Republicans over the size of the proposal. Yesterday Trump said he was willing to go even higher.

Negotiations continue between Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Speaker Nancy Pelosi. They reached an agreement yesterday on a national strategic coronavirus testing program, but other issues remain including liability protection and support for state and local governments.

With the White House, Republicans and Democrats all on different pages, it is unlikely a deal will be reached until after the election.

FY '20 federal debt triples
The Congressional Budget Office is estimating the federal deficit for fiscal year 2020 will reach $3.13 trillion or 15.2% of gross domestic product. This is triple what the debt was for fiscal year 2019 and the highest since the end of World War II. 

The increase in the debt is the result of increased federal spending to help offset the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the economy and the drop in government revenues with widespread shutdowns and layoffs as a result of the pandemic. 

Ag trade advisors needed
USDA and the United States Trade Representative are accepting applications for individuals to serve on their seven agricultural trade advisory committees.

The Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee advises USDA and USTR on current U.S. trade agreements, negotiating new agreements and on other trade policy matters.

 The six Agricultural Technical Advisory Committees provide technical advice and guidance on international trade issues that affect both domestic and foreign production in specific commodity sectors. The ATACs focus on trade in:

  • Animals and animal products

  • Fruits and vegetables

  • Grains, feed, oilseeds and planting seeds

  • Processed foods

  • Sweeteners and sweetener products

  • Tobacco, cotton and peanuts

Applicants must have expertise in both agriculture and international trade matters, be a U.S. citizen and qualify for a security clearance. Committee members will be appointed to four-year terms. 

Application instructions are available here. Applications must be received by 5 p.m. ET on Nov. 13.

Food safety advisory committee nominations
USDA's Food Safety Inspection Service is seeking nominations to the National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods.  There are currently nine vacancies on the committee. 

FSIS is wanting individuals with scientific expertise in the fields of microbiology, epidemiology, food technology (food, clinical and predictive), toxicology, risk assessment, infectious disease, biostatistics and other related sciences. They are also seeking nominations for one individual affiliated with a consumer group to serve on the committee.

Nomination packages should be sent by email to John Jarosh or mailed to: Sonny Perdue, Secretary, USDA, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20250, Attn: FSIS\OPHS\National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods (John Jarosh). The deadline is Nov. 9.

Source: P. Scott Shearer, who is solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly owns the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

About the Author(s)

P. Scott Shearer

Vice President, Bockorny Group, Inc.

Scott Shearer is vice president of the Bockorny Group Inc., a leading bipartisan government affairs consulting firm in Washington, D.C. With more than 30 years experience in government and corporate relations in state and national arenas, he is recognized as a leader in agricultural trade issues, having served as co-chairman of the Agricultural Coalition for U.S.-China Trade and co-chairman of the Agricultural Coalition for Trade Promotion Authority. Scott was instrumental in the passage of China Permanent Normal Trade Relations and TPA. He is past chairman of the USDA-USTR Agricultural Technical Advisory Committee for Trade in Animals and Animal Products and was a member of the USAID Food Security Advisory Committee. Prior to joining the Bockorny Group, Scott served as director of national relations for Farmland Industries Inc., as well as USDA’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Congressional Affairs (1993-96), serving as liaison for the Secretary of Agriculture and the USDA to Congress.

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