Nov. 29, 2011, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) granted an emergency extension of the hours of service exemption to those drivers who operate commercial motor vehicles transporting agricultural products within Ohio. Ohio Farm Bureau had requested PUCO issue such an emergency extension, due to the realities of this year’s harvest season, and was happy to have the cooperation and understanding of the commission members.
Agricultural carriers typically enjoy an hours of service exemption from federal regulation during a state’s officially designated planting and harvesting season. Ohio’s planting and harvest season stretches from March 1 through Nov. 30. Many years this 9-month period has been adequate for farmers to get through their busiest time hauling crops. This year however, a rainy spring delayed planting and an even wetter fall has continued to push harvest further and further into the winter months. Because of this, Ohio Farm Bureau and several other agricultural groups requested that PUCO grant such extension to ensure those transporting agricultural products would be assured the time necessary to get crops to storage or market.
The extension of the hours of service exemption will expire at 12:01 a.m. on January 1, 2012. Carriers subject to this emergency regulatory relief will still be subject to other federal and state regulations as normal, and should continue to keep adequate time records. Furthermore, farmers and drivers should take measures to ensure all drivers are safely able to operate their vehicles at all times.
Read a copy of OFBF’s letter to the PUCO.