An Alabama farrier is playing a key role in attempts to relax electronic logging device (ELD) and hours of service (HOS) rules for the equine industry, and he’s urging the farrier industry to join him.
David Kimbrough, a Tuscumbia, Ala., farrier and founder of Spurr’s Big Fix, worked with members of the Alabama House of Representatives to draft legislation asking the federal government to allow flexibility for the equine industry in its ELD and HOS rules.
Kimbrough and his friend John Johnson, a farmer and equestrian from Tuscumbia, Ala., went to Montgomery and worked with state legislative figures, including Alabama state Rep. Johnny Morrow. Personnel from the departments of revenue and agriculture, as well as the Alabama Farmers Federation, also attended.
“I took files of everything I had on this new law down there for them to see,” Kimbrough says. “At 7 at night I had a congressman calling me wanting me to explain more of this to him.”
“First of all, I thank him [David] for letting me know that this was coming,” Morrow says. “I was surprised and very confused as to why someone representing some of the main agricultural associations in the state hadn’t contacted me.”
On Feb. 15, 2018, Morrow brought House Joint Resolution 198 to the Alabama House of Representatives.
HJR198 states that: “Information published by the American Horse Council, the National Cattleman’s Beef Association, the American Quarter Horse Association, and others, states that compliance with the new rule on ELDs and hours of service (HOS) creates a danger to the welfare and safety of livestock and an unnecessary burden on agribusiness.”
“The Senate and the House passed the resolution unanimously and then the governor signed it,” he says. “It became the official position of the state of Alabama then, both houses and the governor, that we take this action to notify our elected officials that work with us in Washington.”
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) released the controversial rules Dec. 16, 2015, for compliance effective Dec. 18, 2017. They state that commercial vehicles previously using paper logbooks must switch to ELDs and operate under HOS requirements, with limited exceptions.
Commercial vehicles, vehicles with gross vehicle weight of 25,001 pounds or more and vehicles that haul beyond the livestock/agricultural exemption — which the American Horse Council notes, “the majority of the show industry will fall outside of this exemption” — all are included in the ELD/HOS requirements.
ELDs log driving time and speed for 14 hours after activation, which occurs when the vehicle reaches 5 miles per hour, according to Protect The Harvest. During this period, speed and rest periods are tracked, but stops for loading, unloading, traffic or refueling are not exempt from the 14 hours.
After 14 hours, drivers must stop driving for 10 hours or risk fines — regardless of the stress this could cause horses or other livestock they might be hauling. With similar effect, stops to ensure animal welfare may be minimized in order to make trips within the allotted 14 hours.
FMSCA granted drivers transporting livestock a 90-day exemption from ELD requirements after a waiver request from the National Pork Producers Council. But that waiver expires March 18, 2018.
Kimbrough says the industry is not prepared to comply with these regulations.
“Nobody ever heard of having a DOT [Department of Transportation] number or CDLs [Commercial Driver’s License] and the logging and all of their pickup trucks with their horse trailers and all,” he says. “That was always something that was in commercial truck stuff, you know?”
Consequently, HJR198 urges Congress to “create more flexibility in recent Federal Motor Carrier [Safety] Administration regulations relating to agriculture and small business industries.”
HJR198 also calls into question the ELD mandate’s $2 billion annual compliance cost and its ability to make roads safer — referring to its safety studies as “dubious at best.”
As previously reported by American Farriers Journal, farriers are unlikely to need an ELD. Still, Kimbrough cautions that they will feel its effect on the industry as a whole.
“It is going to ruin the horse business if we don’t do something,” he says. “It’s already got people to where they’re scared to travel and show their horses for fear of getting caught and it’s getting worse by the day.”
With experience in trucking, Kimbrough understands the need for safety regulations, but explains that they have unintended consequences on a smaller scale.
“It’s affecting trailer sales,” he says. “I’ve talked with manufacturers that are already really being hurt by it. Rodeo people and show people and everyone else is having to deal with this right now.”
Every small facet of the industry stands to feel the regulation.
“I’ve also spoken with some college rodeo coaches who say it could actually affect their programs and other college equestrian events to where they’re not allowed to haul their horses,” Kimbrough says. “They could not get the scholarships, or it could be the end of college rodeo as we know it.”
In order to support Alabama and the mission of HJR198, Morrow says concerned parties should contact their national and state representatives and “get them to do the same thing that we did in Alabama.”
“If enough people get together and do this, we can have some impact on the implementation of this horrible, horrible regulation,” Morrow says.
Kimbrough also urges others from the horse industry to act.
“What we need is more people calling their states and calling their congressmen,” he says. “You don’t have to spend a lot of time. A lot of people don’t call because they don’t know what to say. Tell them all this.”