Data Loggers Could Impact Cattle Comfort

Data Loggers Could be Hardship on Cattle Being Transported

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

Transporting cattle, or any livestock for that matter, has special nuances so drivers can get to the destination quickly for the animals’ comfort. Occasionally a driver can self-adjust the drive time beyond the mandated limit.

But now a new regulation regarding electronic logging devices by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in Washington D.C., may be implemented December this year, forcing drivers to stop.

“It would essentially require commercial truck drivers to use a electronic device to comply with the hours of service schedule that they’re required to meet, which limits both on-duty time and driving time,” said Justin Oldfield, a California cattleman and vice president of governmental affairs with the California Cattlemen’s Association in Sacramento.

“We not only have the cattle’s welfare that we need to take into account for, but we’ve got to get to that destination and make sure those cattle are off-loaded properly and safely,” Oldfield said.

Oldfield said they’re looking at some alternatives that would help the California Cattlemen’s Association members. “One of the things that we are concerned about is our distance to a lot of buyers, which would be in the Midwest,” Oldfield explained. “So any additional cost that this regulation might cause would probably be felt more significantly farther from the Midwest, which would primarily represent California, other states in the West and the Southeast.”

The current regulation is maximum on-duty time of 14 hours, with maximum driving time being 11 hours, with a 10-hour break. If a driver hauling cattle was only 100 miles from the destination, he would want to keep going for the comfort of the cattle. But with the electronic logger in place, he’d be forced to take that 10-hour break.

“Some of the issues that we have, for instance, is technically you’re on-duty even if you’re waiting to load cattle. So there are situations to where maybe there’s eight trucks waiting to load cattle, and you could be waiting in line for 2, 3 hours. And that entire time is counting against your on-duty time,” Oldfield said.

“We’re looking at where we can try to ensure that those hours are not counted against your maximum on-duty time,” he said.

And another area that’s being looked at is an exclusion for drivers hauling live animals, in order to have time to get to destinations.

“Our membership is basically past policy that asks us to look at everything, including that. There’s of course the challenge politically of making these changes on the regulatory side. I can tell you that nothing is off the table at this point,” Oldfield said. “Again, the reform is not necessarily the electron log-in device. The reform itself is the hours of service.”

Cattle Industry Supports TPP

California Cattle Industry Supports TPP Trade Proposal

By Charmayne Hefley, Associate Editor

Justin Oldfield, California Cattlemen’s Association’s vice president of government relations and a cattleman in Sacramento County, expressed support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) at the December roundtable in Sacramento at which U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Michael Scuse presented.

Oldfield anticipates TPP would boost demand for U.S. farm and food products among nearly 500 million consumers in 11 countries. “TPP is largely supported not only by California’s beef industry, but across the country, largely because members of TPP represent some of the largest export markets for U.S. beef.”

“Consumers in those markets love U.S. beef,” said Oldfield, “Unfortunately, we do have some pretty high tariff rates in TPP-member countries.” Oldfield explained the U.S. has recently been at a competitive disadvantage with Australia in supplying beef to Japan. Australia, which also depends on its beef exports, has a lower tariff right now with the Japanese.

“A good percentage of that [Japanese] market has been taken away from us by the Australians,” Oldfield said. “With TPP in place, it will put us right back on a level playing field with the Australians and a reduction in tariffs in the long-term. We hope to recapture some of that market share back once TPP is done,” said Oldfield.

Oldfield hopes Congress moves quickly on TPP to make it eligible for a vote, “so that we can get back to sending high quality beef to the Pacific Rim. Every day that Congress sits on [TPP] will cost beef producers money here, and not just in California, but across the United States in terms of our market access to Japan,” he said.