Maine officials seek HOS break for lobster haulers


Several lawmakers from Maine are asking the federal government for a rule change that would make it easier for one of that state’s leading commodities to get to market.

U.S. Senators Susan Collins (Republican) and Angus King (Independent) and U.S. Representatives Chellie Pingree (Democrat) and Jared Golden (Democrat) Tuesday, Jan. 5, sent a letter to Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Deputy Administrator Wiley Deck asking for a change to an Interim Final Rule that would make it easier to transport lobsters.

Shutterstock 1209206068 ScaledThe Interim Final Rule in question seeks to clarify the definition of “agricultural commodity” for the purposes of Hours of Service rules, which set maximum hours commercial vehicle truckers can drive. Drivers transporting agricultural commodities, including livestock, from the source of the commodities to a location within 150 air miles of the source during harvest and planting seasons are exempt from Hours of Service requirements.

The 2018 Farm Bill amended the statutory definition of “livestock” referenced in the Hours of Service regulations to include alpacas, llamas, live fish, and crawfish, but did not include lobsters. The lawmakers asked the definition of livestock include lobster and shellfish.

The delegation asked the proposed definition be amended to include ” …all other living animals cultivated, grown, raised, caught, or harvested for commercial purposes, including aquatic animals.” This, according to the letter, would ensure lobster and other shellfish from Maine can be included under agricultural exemptions to the Hours of Service rules. It would allow lobster shipments to reach markets like Boston and New York City easier.