BILLINGS - New regulations that will have a negative impact on Montana’s livestock industry are just a few days away from being implemented. And both livestock producers and livestock haulers are concerned.
“I’m not sure the producers and I’m not sure a lot of the people in this part of the world understand the severity of this but in my mind it’s the number one thing we’re facing in the livestock industry right now,” said Livestock Marketing Association Director and Billings auction market owner Joe Goggins.
New regulations regarding electronic logging devices have yet to be fully implemented by livestock haulers, but time is running out.
“This transportation thing could really affect the value of these cattle that are over 11, 12 or 13 hours from the corn belt," Goggins said. "They like to buy these cattle from out here but if their forced to unload these cattle before they get them to their destination, you’re going to have a lot of animal welfare type issues, there’s just nowhere to unload them and you can’t get these cattle very far down the road in 11 hours.”
It’s not just the cattle industry that’ll be affected. Big Sandy rancher Stan Weaver is an officer with the American Quarter Horse Association and says those who haul horses will also be subject to these new ELD regulations.
"We look at it as a really bad animal welfare issue. You know if these cattle trucks or horse trucks have to rest for 10 hours they’re going to be flooding these truck stops and rest areas and these cattle and horses are going to be sitting there,” said Weaver. “Even horse trailers are affected by this. It will affect our shows and will devastate college rodeo and pro rodeo. This is serious and people need to get involved.”
Groups like the Livestock Marketing Association, AQHA and others are working desperately to get more time because among other concerns, the technology is far from perfect.
“They’re having trouble with ELD’s. The devices haven’t been working right and there’s a lot of issues with them. Right now, they’re fighting desperately trying to get us a stay so we can address these hours of use. But what we need to do is call these senators and representatives and tell them the severity because it’s too late after its done,” said Goggins.
The new rules went into effect on December 18th for most commercial truckers. But, a 90-day delay was imposed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association on the same day for livestock haulers so the agency could evaluate issues with the mandate. The 90-day delay ends Sunday, March 18.