The “Agricultural Commodity” Exemption in 49 CFR 395.1(k)(1) to the Hours of Service Regulations
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has provided regulatory guidance to clarify the applicability of the “Agricultural commodity” exemption in 49 CFR 395.1(k)(1) to the Hours- of- Service (HOS) regulations. The regulatory guidance clarifies the exemption regarding:
(1) Drivers operating unladen vehicles traveling either to pick up an agricultural commodity, as defined in § 395.2, or returning from a delivery point;
(2) Drivers engaged in trips beyond 150 air-miles from the source of the agricultural commodity;
(3) Determining the “source” of agricultural commodities under § 395.1(k)(1); and
(4) How the exception applies when agricultural commodities are loaded at multiple sources during a trip.
The “Agricultural commodity” regulatory guidance primarily focuses on the application of the 150 air-mile radius exemption for the transportation of agricultural commodities, 49 CFR 395.1(k)(1). It does not address “farm supplies for agricultural purposes” under § 395.1(k)(2) or (3). This regulatory guidance is issued to ensure consistent understanding and application of the exemption by motor carriers and State officials enforcing HOS rules identical to or compatible with FMCSA’s requirements.
Drivers Operating Unladen Vehicles Traveling Either to Pick Up an Agricultural Commodity, as Defined in § 395.2, or Returning from a Delivery Point
Question: Does the agricultural commodity exemption (§ 395.1(k)(1)) apply to drivers while driving unloaded within 150 air-miles of the place where an agricultural commodity will be loaded, and to that portion of an unloaded return trip which occurs within a 150 air-mile radius of the place where the agricultural commodity was loaded?
Guidance: Yes, provided that the trip does not involve transporting any non-agricultural cargo and the sole purpose of the trip is to make a pick-up or delivery of agricultural commodities, as defined in § 395.2. In that case, driving and on-duty time are not limited, nor do other requirements of 49 CFR part 395 apply.
Drivers Engaged in Trips Beyond 150 Air-miles from the Source of the Agricultural Commodity
Question: Does the agricultural commodity exemption (§ 395.1(k)(1)) apply if the destination for the commodity is beyond the 150 air-mile radius from the source?
Guidance: Yes, the exemption applies to transportation during the initial 150 air-miles from the source of the commodity, regardless of the distance to the final destination. Once a driver operates beyond the 150 air-mile radius of the source, 49 CFR part 395 applies. The driver is then subject to the limits under the HOS rules and must record those hours. Once the HOS rules begin to apply on a given trip, they continue to apply for the duration of that trip, until the driver crosses back into the area within 150 air-miles of the original source of the commodities.
Determining the “Source” of the Agricultural Commodities Under § 395.1(k)(1)
Question: How is the “source” of the agricultural commodities in § 395.1(k)(1) determined?
Guidance: The “source” of an agricultural commodity, as the term is used in § 395.1(k)(1), is the point at which an agricultural commodity is loaded onto an unladen commercial motor vehicle. The location may be any intermediate storage or handling location away from the original source at the farm or field, provided the commodity retains its original form and is not significantly changed by any processing or packing.
How the 395.1(k)(1) “Agricultural Commodity” exemption applies when agricultural commodities are loaded at multiple sources during a trip
Question: How is the “source of the agricultural commodities” determined if the driver makes multiple pick-ups of the commodity en-route to the final destination?
Guidance: When a driver loads some of an agricultural commodity at a “source” and then loads more of that commodity at additional stops, the first place where the commodity was loaded is the measuring point for the 150 air-mile radius.