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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Regulatory Guidance: Transportation of Agricultural Commodities including Livestock

Regulatory Guidance: Transportation of Agricultural Commodities including Livestock

On December 20, 2017 [82 FR 60360], the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published a Federal Register notice proposing regulatory guidance concerning the transportation of agricultural commodities, which includes livestock and requested public comment on the proposals. FMCSA sought to provide clarity on the use of this exception to both industry and law enforcement, and to provide as much flexibility as possible for the industry, while maintaining safety.

The final guidance document was published on June 7, 2018 [83 FR 26374] and clarifies the applicability of the “Agricultural commodity” exception in 49 CFR 395.1(k)(1) to the “Hours of Service of Drivers” [HOS] regulations.

This guidance is applicable to all transporters of agricultural commodities, which are defined in 49 CFR 395.2 and include non-processed food, feed, fiber, or livestock and insects.

  • The guidance is limited to the application of the 150 air-mile exception for the transportation of “agricultural commodities.” 
  • The following operations are not subject to the HOS regulations while operating within 150 air-mile radius of the source of the commodity:
  • Drivers operating unladen vehicles traveling either to pick up an agricultural commodity, as defined in 395.2, or returning from a delivery point; and
  • Drivers engaged in trips beyond 150 air-miles from the source of the agricultural commodity are not subject to the HOS regulations until they exit the 150 air-mile radius.

The guidance also clarifies many longstanding questions about what can be considered a “source” of an agricultural commodity:

  • A source may be not only the farm or ranch where the agricultural commodity originates, but also intermediate storage and loading facilities, such as grain elevators or sale barns, provided the product still meets the definition of an agricultural commodity.
  • When agricultural commodities are loaded at multiple sources during a trip only the first loading point can be considered a source from which the 150 air-mile radius is measured. 

The guidance should also be considered when determining the applicability of the Electronic Logging Devices (ELD) rule. Thus, motor carriers utilizing the agricultural commodities exception – like other exceptions to the HOS rule – will be able to take advantage of an exception from the ELD requirements if they do not operate outside of the 150-mile radius more than 8 days out of every 30.  However, transporters of livestock and insects are not required to have an ELD at this time. The statutory exemption will remain in place until further notice. Drivers do not need to carry any documentation regarding this exemption. 

Motor carriers transporting livestock have been eligible to use the 150 air-mile exemption from the HOS rules at the end of a trip since November 15, 2021. Therefore, the HOS rules are not in effect for livestock haulers between a point 150 air miles from the source of the livestock – typically a sales barn – and a point 150 air miles from the place where the livestock will be delivered. These regulations are found in 395.1(k)(4) of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.

The Agency’s Agriculture webpage at provides a variety of resources to help with understanding all agriculture exemptions, the applicability of the rule and regulations to agriculture, and how to use your ELD when operating under an agricultural exception.

This guidance is effective immediately.



Last updated: Tuesday, November 7, 2023