Legislation re-introduced in the U.S. Senate aims to strike what some consider a more reasonable balance between the needs of livestock and those who drive them across country.
The bill would give livestock haulers more flexibility in the hours they can spend driving on the road before taking an extended period of time off.
Both Montana’s senators, Republican Steve Daines and Democrat Jon Tester, are co-sponsoring the Transporting Livestock Across America Safely Act.
The act would also no longer count time spent unloading livestock for food and water toward maximum hours.
That stands out as a big advantage to Wally Congdon, vice president of the Montana Cattlemen Association.
“If you offload and leave them off-loaded for four hours, if it costs against you for time behind the wheel, that costs you 280 miles of distance,” said Congdon.
Other industry representatives, like Jay Bodner with the Montana Stockgrowers Association, agree the act could improve livestock transportation. Bodner said the act is the result of several years’ dialogue with legislators.
“Because we do export a tremendous amount of feeder cattle out of Montana, they go to a lot of feedlots in the midwest, and a significant drive time with hours of service and electronic logging devices, with some of those requirements now and some of the potential restrictions on there, it’s hard for our animal get from point A and point B safely,” said Bodner.
An identical version of the bill was introduced last year, but no action was taken.