New trucking e-log regulations don’t account for the difference between heifers and hamburgers

Dennis Laycraft, CCA at NCBA CattleCon 2023 in New Orleans, LA

There’s no doubt that conversations have been buzzing in both the Canada and the U.S. when it comes to challenges and issues around electronic trucking logs.

Electronic log book laws have been put in place, effective January 1, 2023, in effort to increase safety on the roads, which of course is the number one priority, however, there are some unintended consequences — especially for the livestock industry —that require more discussion.

RealAg Radio Host Shaun Haney had the opportunity to catch up with Dennis Laycraft, executive vice president with the Canadian Cattle Association (CCA), and Kent Bacus, executive director of government affairs with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), at the NCBA conference held at New Orleans, Louisiana, earlier this month.

Hauling cattle and livestock is different work than hauling a load of grain, says Laycraft, because you can’t just stop and log out — you’ve got live animals that you need to get to the final destination.

“With the weather, we deal with a whole range of things. We’re already hearing a few examples where when people are getting slowed down, they’re exceeding the timeframe that it would normally take for that trip. So [in Canada] we’re like the United States, and are asking for basically an exemption, when you get within so many kilometres of your final destination, the best thing for those cattle is to get them to their final destination where they can get settled, they’ll get their feed and water, and prevent any of those problems,” explains Laycraft.

The CCA has been consulting with the trucking industry, and have found out that not only would they have the ability to do that, but it would eliminate safety concerns on the road such as truckers going faster, as they want to get to the destination before they time out. In the exemption they are asking for, the truckers could take their time to get where they are going safety, and get the cattle there safely as well.

In the U.S., policymakers have extended this exemption until September 2023, but with their currently being no exemption in Canada, it makes cross border regulations become tricky, as there are lots of trucks heading both north and south of the border, creating delays. In exchange, this wasted time is counted towards the log times, creating even a bigger issue.

To go in and have this conversation about what is best not just for the trucker, but also for the animals that are being hauled, is an important one to have in Ottawa, says Laycraft, and he expects a lot of the CCA’s energy will be put into that as we move further into the year. (More below the audio)

The U.S. does have this extension until September of 2023, but as Bacus explains, it leaves a big question of what the long-game is for the future.

“What are the options? Are we going to be able to continue to get that extension? That’s a huge cost for our producers, and there hasn’t been a lot of information out there to show it has actually improved the safety of the drivers on the road,” Bacus says.

“Everybody knows that when you’re hauling cattle, your reputation is everything. If you mess that up — you’re not going to get hired by anyone. But, there’s a shortage of those drivers — we need more, we need more young people who can qualify for that, we need to train the next generation of people to help us move livestock and stay up to speed of commerce. But whether or not the electric logs are going to make a difference is yet to be determined.”

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