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The Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration’s Electronic Logging Device (ELD) rule will go into effect on Dec. 18, 2017 and will be required in all newer commercial vehicles.

According to Huckfeldt Trucking Company Manager Dennis Huckfeldt, the rule will “change the way we transport livestock.”

“In 2017, an electronic logging device will be put into all trucks that are year 2000 or newer,” says Huckfeldt.

Currently, drivers are required to keep written records of their duty status. They will be required to transfer to the use of the ELD.

The ELD logs in when the truck is started and begins the hours of service clock, regardless of whether the driver is at the pickup location.

Impacts

The logging device will have a major impact on agriculture, says Huckfeldt, commenting, “I think it’ll definitely change the way we do business.”

The device is predicted to increase the costs of transporting livestock by limiting the time that truckers are able to drive in a day.

He comments, “If we run over our hours, we have to shut down, and if we’re not to our destination, what will happen to our stock on board?”

To get stock delivered to their destination, trucking companies may be forced to utilize team drivers or to connect with other trucking lines.

“If we know that we can’t be to a destination on time, then it may end up that the cost will increase due to potentially putting team drivers in or connecting with another truck line to get the stock delivered,” says Huckfeldt.

Proposed speed

Another proposed regulation that would impact agricultural trucking is a proposed speed limiting regulation.

“The proposed speed limiting regulation would set a nationwide speed limit for commercial vehicles,” says Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation (WyFB) Field Services and Federal Lands Associate Holly Kennedy.

The proposed speed limit would be enforced through the use of a speed limiting device that will cap the revolutions per minute (RPMs) that a commercial vehicle is able to obtain.

The speed would be a standard speed or a “one size fits all approach” for all highways, explains Kennedy.

Huckfeldt comments that while there are cases where going the speed limit is not advisable in a commercial vehicle, it also would be a challenge in good conditions to get to destinations in a timely manner.

“If they run some of the speed limits in a truck, that’s too fast. Although in the same sense, on a nice open highway, drivers want to make as much time as they possibly can,” says Huckfeldt.

Concerns

One of the concerns that the WyFB is voicing with the proposed speed limiting rule is governmental overreach on states’ rights.

“In 1995, the National Maximum Speed limit was repealed, and that authority was given back to the individual states to decide what speed was best for their highways,” says Kennedy.

“We feel that each state does and should have the right to set the speed limit that fits their highway conditions and situations,” she continues.

She also notes that limiting commercial vehicle speed will require an increased number of commercial vehicles on the road to maintain the same level of productivity.

“One of our primary concerns with that is that’s going to chew up our highways even more than they already are,” explains Kennedy. “That cost is going to get passed down to every citizen in Wyoming to maintain those roads that are receiving more traffic.”

Safety

“We’re opposed to the speed limiting rule primarily for safety concerns,” says Kennedy.

High traffic areas that are prone to clogging are a major concern with the proposed rule.

“Highway 59 is a classic example of a high traffic area. They’ve had to put in passing lanes to increase safety, so we have less incidences of vehicles trying to pass commercial vehicles while facing oncoming traffic,” says Kennedy.

“We can only see that this will increase those incidences because we’ll have more vehicles traveling slower than the passenger vehicles. That creates a safety problem for both the passenger vehicles and the commercial vehicles,” she continues.

As the speed limiter regulates the RPMs that a vehicle can achieve and therefore limits the ability to accelerate quickly, Kennedy notes that it could increase accidents because commercial vehicles are not able to avoid collisions.

Limiting a commercial vehicle’s ability to accelerate quickly could also cause problems with merging with traffic.

“The onramps in Cheyenne are an example of where we need to be able to accelerate to safely merge with traffic when we’re coming around those tight corners,” continues Kennedy.

“We can only see an increase in incidences of collisions with both of those situations,” she concludes.

Emilee Gibb is editor of Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

As the 115th Congress convenes for 2018, many changes are being discussed on Capitol Hill. During end of the year, a Farm Foundation Forum was held in Washington, D.C. that discussed expected changes for the 2018 Farm Bill.

Agricultural organizations nationwide urged farmers and ranchers to begin thinking about the 2018 Farm Bill and expressing their preferences.

“It’s not too soon to start talking about this Farm Bill, and we encourage producers to be active in the policy making process this winter,” said American Farm Bureau (AFBF) Lobbyist Mary Kay Thatcher.

Background

“When I talk to farmers, many of them say, ‘Why don’t we rename the Farm Bill so people know what it’s about. It’s not a farm bill as much as it’s a food bill,’” commented Thatcher.

In the 2014 Farm Bill, 77 percent of the bill cost was in the form of nutrition programs.

“It’s primarily the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which was formerly called food stamps. However, it also includes funding for the Emergency Food Assistance Program, the Senior's Farmers’ Markets Program and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Snack Program for children,” explained Thatcher.

The 2014 bill’s second largest component was crop insurance, which is 10 percent of the bill.

“It’s been a very successful program, insuring almost 90 percent of all of the eligible cropland nationwide,” she said.

Other spending categories of the bill include conservation, commodities and other programs.

Friend of ag

The well-recognized face in agriculture of Chuck Conner was present during the Farm Foundation Forum in November.

Conner has served the agricultural industry in many facets including the agricultural committee at Capitol Hill, Corn Refiners, in the George W. Bush Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture as the Deputy Agriculture Secretary.

“He really was the point for ag policy in the Bush Administration. Since then, he’s been with the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives,” said Agri-Pulse Senior Editor Philip Brasher

The Washington, D.C. veteran gave considerable insight at the Forum as to the direction that the 2018 Farm Bill will most likely go.

“Chuck had some very strong opinions about what’s going to happen with the Farm Bill, and I think for a lot of our listeners who like the current Farm Bill with some tweaks here and there for commodities would probably like what he had to say,” continued Brasher.

Expected changes

According to Agri-Pulse Associate Editor Spencer Chase, Conner commented that the 2018 Farm Bill will not be an extension of the current policy.

“Chuck was adamant that there will be another farm bill and that an extension of the current policy that we’re working under right now would not suffice in the long term,” commented Chase.

The new bill will most likely address problem areas, including commodities, such as cotton and the Dairy Margin Protection Program.

Brasher explained that Conner described the plans for the new Farm Bill as “farmer friendly” and “pro-farmer.”

“He was emphatic that not only would there be a farm bill, but it would be a farm bill that farmers would like,” said Brasher.

Special interest groups most likely will not be effective in making significant changes to U.S. farm policy.

“Chuck made clear that the Environmental Working Group and Heritage Foundation, both of which would like to see some major changes in farm policy, were not going to be successful,” emphasized Brasher.

Looking ahead

Agricultural organizations, such as AFBF, are actively working to lobby for issues most relevant to their members for the 2018 Farm Bill, as well as to provide resources on current topics for the bill.

“Farm Bureau has put together a working group of AFBF staff and 16 staff from state Farm Bureaus to provide some opinion papers and to encourage farmers to be involved in the policy development process,” said Thatcher.

“If producers go to the website fb.or/farmbillworkinggroup, they’ll find almost 50 opinion papers dealing with many issues, as well as a survey and other resources,” she concluded.

Agri-Pulse plans to launch an in-depth editorial series in February for interested individuals titled “The Seven Things You Should Know Before You Write the Next Farm Bill.” It can be found at agri-pulse.com.

Emilee Gibb is editor of Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Montana State University Economics Professor Vince Smith expects the next Farm Bill to be released in 2019, although it is scheduled for 2018.

“We have not had a farm bill at its scheduled time since 2002,” he noted, adding, “2018 is also an election year for congress, and in general, the House and Senate Agricultural Committees prefer to see bills passed in non-election years for a whole variety of reasons.”

Smith discussed current programs and addressed possible discussion for future farm bill legislation in an April 19 webinar hosted by Ag in Uncertain Times.

He believes that the 2014 Farm Bill continues a 25-year shift in subsidies toward crop insurance and other farm safety net programs. There has been almost a complete shift away from traditional price support subsidy programs at the same time.

Potential risk

“Over the past 15 years, U.S. farm lobbyists, particular USDA administrators and congressional Agriculture Committee members, have increasingly chosen to describe Title I and Title XI programs as risk management and farm safety net programs. While those programs increase farm incomes and reduce participating farm’s risk of going out of business, they do anything but reduce overall risk taken by the farm sector,” he explained.

The programs incentivize risk, he noted, and they transfer the consequence of risk away from the individual farm or ranch and onto the taxpayer.

From 1996 through the current farm bill, traditional payment programs have decreased, conservation spending has increased, and crop insurance programs have increased significantly.

Budget

Addressing expected points of discussion for the upcoming farm bill, Smith said, “Budget will always be an issue, and the baseline will be the initial focus of the discussion. The baseline for the farm bill is close to $100 billion a year, of which the majority is allocated to nutrition programs.”

Despite the Republican push to separate nutrition from the farm bill, Smith does not expect the issue to be a subject of debate for 2018.

“Another issue concerns Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC). Those programs were put in place to replace direct payments, which were roughly $5 billion a year. The claim was that the programs would cost roughly $2 billion less,” he remarked.

Current indications suggest that ARC and PLC could cost nearly $1.5 billion more than direct payments, and that figure will likely be a point of concern in discussions regarding the next farm bill.

“ARC and PLC are likely to cost about 90 percent more than what was claimed by the House and Senate Ag Committees prior to the passage of the 2014 Farm Bill. That has not gone unnoticed by interest groups critical of farm spending, some of whom are influential,” he said.

Crop insurance

Although they are sometimes referred to as crop insurance programs, Smith also noted that ARC and PLC programs do not include premiums, and payments are not associated with production.

“Those programs raise World Trade Organization (WTO) issues that are far more severe than those associated with the now defunct direct payments program, which they essentially replaced,” he said.

Smith also noted, “The ARC-PLC choice has been widely viewed as overly complicated by many farmers, and the structure of the program may be revisited.”

Crop insurance continues to be the largest budget item, and interest groups from both the left and right have criticized the Harvest Price Option revenue contract, claiming it to be an expensive waste of money.

“Farmers don’t have that view because it suddenly pays out nicely for them on a net basis, but it has been identified on the left and right as an essentially heavily subsidized call program,” he stated.

The Obama Administration has argued over the last several years that the Harvest Price Option should no longer be subsidized, and it appears that the message is resonating in some areas of congress.

Conservation

“Conservation programs may also be revisited,” Smith predicted.

Commodity prices that remain at current or more moderate levels may encourage farm groups to push for a more expansive Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), and Smith guesses the money could be transferred from the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).

“Beyond the farm sector, CSP is being criticized as a subsidy program targeted at states like Iowa,” he commented, adding that the original proposer of the program was a congressman from Iowa. “We could see a reallocation of funds between the CRP and CSP.”

Lastly, Smith mentioned that environmental issues will also be included in farm bill policy discussions progressing toward 2018, as environmentalists and farm groups talk about expansion and production in potentially fragile areas of land.

Natasha Wheeler is editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Laramie –  “As I look back at a Reagan quote, Reagan said, ‘As government expands, liberty contracts.’ I think what we’ve seen over the last eight years is the expansion of the federal government,” said American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) Director of Congressional Relations Ryan Yates.

He continued, “When we’re looking at how can we interact with this next Congress and with this next administration, we’re going to be looking for ways to come up with smarter government, not bigger government.”

Yates presented an analysis of the presidential election and future implications for the agricultural industry during the Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation’s 97th annual meeting on Nov. 10-12.

He noted that the AFBF is “hopeful that we will ensure agricultural and rural resource issues will be front and center within the first 100 days of the election cycle.”

Surprises

Against the predictions of pollsters across the nation, Donald Trump won several swing states in the Electoral College.

“Looking at just a week before the election, we saw Hillary Clinton favored to win in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, North Carolina and Florida. These were states that the pollsters got wrong,” commented Yates.

He noted that while the pollsters were incorrect prior to the election, the data collected about why voters made their voting decisions is useful for determining how the outcome occurred.

“We had a very deeply pessimistic electorate. While we had some very unpopular candidates, the majority of people believed that the country was going in the wrong direction, with only one of three voters thinking that this country was going in the right direction,” Yates continued.

In late October, there was an announcement for ObamaCare, or the Affordable Care Act, that the premiums for next year showed dramatic increases for families that would be enrolling in the exchanges.

“There were several states with over 100 percent increases in those premiums. There was a lot of concern moving into this election cycle concerning the campaign about the Affordable Care Act and the fact that the Act was ultimately not affordable,” said Yates.

He noted that many voters were searching for a change, with it being a top priority over terrorism and the economy.

“Going back to the belief now that the country is going in the wrong direction – people just wanted something different. Donald Trump proved to be that different type of a candidate,” explained Yates.

Demographics

“Looking at who showed up to vote, ultimately this election cycle was about the base,” said Yates.

It was predicted that there would be an increase in certain demographics including women voters, new voters and Latino voters.

“Ultimately, there was an understanding or a thought that we would see big surges in certain demographics that just didn’t occur,” he explained.

Only 10 percent of voters were new voters this election cycle, with the majority of those voting for Hillary Clinton, and other demographics did not see any major changes.

“The female turnout in this election cycle went down from four years about by about one percent, and Latino turnout only managed to go up by one percent,” said Yates.

The silent voters who tipped the election in Trump’s favor were the rural voters.

“In rural and blue collar parts of the country, Donald Trump did very well. I think that was discounted in some of the early models that the polls looked at,” he continued.

When compared to campaigns in the past two cycles, Trump was more successful with minority groups.

“Trump did better with Hispanic voters than we saw in years past,” said Yates.

Regulatory pressure

AFBF anticipates that President-elect Trump will be a conventional Republican in terms of tax policies.

“He’s come out very strongly in favor of rolling back regulatory pressures that we’ve seen in the last eight years under President Obama’s Administration,” said Yates.

Trade and opening new trade agreements is a critical element of the agricultural industry.

“In terms of Donald Trump’s position on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the current TPP, for all intents and purposes, is dead to the extent that new negotiations will come forward,” explained Yates. “Likely, things will be slowed significantly on the trade front.”

Other challenges

The Trump Administration has indicated to AFBF that it is understanding of the challenges facing agriculture in terms of farm labor and immigration.

“We hope to work with the Trump Administration on comprehensive immigration reform,” said Yates.

Federal overreach through regulations such as the Clean Water Act and Waters of the U.S. that have caused significant harm to agriculture and natural resource development is a top concern for the western states including Wyoming.

“The Trump campaign has been very positive in terms of our requests for changes on the regulatory front, so we are excited about the opportunities that we’ll have there,” he explained. “He has been very clear that he will appoint pro-agriculture appointees to these key cabinet positions, and we’re going to hold him to it.”

Emilee Gibb is editor of Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

On Oct. 13, the Department of Labor (DOL) announced their Final Rule on the employment of foreign workers in jobs related to herding of livestock on the range, including the herding of sheep and goats.

“The regulation, the H-2A Herder Final Rule, implements a methodology to address wage stagnation and prevent adverse effects on U.S. workers,” said DOL in their release.

“The rule is better than we anticipated, but there are a lot of details to look at and sort through,” said Wyoming Wool Growers Association (WWGA) Executive Director Amy Hendrickson. “We are grateful that DOL has listened to the industry. They took industry comments to heart and really tried to shape the program to meet their goals but also to not put sheep producers out of business.”

The American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) commented that the work of ASI, Mountain Plains Agriculture Service and Western Range Association led to the submission of nearly 500 comments.

“The rule followed much of the sheep industry’s proposed methodology concerning two critical issues that arose in the original DOL proposal earlier this year – open range and wages,” ASI said.

Inside the rule

Among the concerns with the initial rule, the definition of “open range” was a big concern for sheep producers.

Sheep producer Shaun Sims of Evanston, who testified at a congressional hearing about the rule in August, commented, “They did away with the language about fencing, but they added ‘cultivated land.’ That might be problematic for producers in California or producers who bring their lambs and sheep into field in the fall.”

Former ASI President Clint Krebs of Oregon added that federal officials also greatly modified their proposal specifying ranches would be eligible to hire sheepherders under the H-2A program provision.

“We estimated 40 percent of the ranches that have hired sheepherders for decades would not have been eligible due to a proposed definition involving fencing where sheep graze,” Krebs said.

Wage impacts

The wage rate was also addressed in the final rule, and Hendrickson said, “The wage rate in the rule is very similar to what was proposed by the industry as a solution.”

DOL stated, “Under the final rule, employers must pay a wage that equals or exceeds the highest of a monthly pay rate, a collective bargaining agreement wage or an applicable minimum wage set by court or law. Under the rule, the monthly pay rate for all range occupations will use the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour and a 48-hour workweek.”

“The Department will implement a wage formula tied to the federal minimum wage similar to our recommendation, and while it is a significant cost increase that won’t fit all ranches, the modification at least provides most farms and ranches the opportunity to sustain their sheep operation,” said ASI Executive Director Peter Orwick. “The proposal of the department in April to triple monthly wages would have put the majority of sheep producing families out of business.”

The wage rate will be phased in over three years, with full implementation beginning in 2018.

“Although it isn’t as drastic as had been proposed, the wage will change operations,” Sims explained. “Some operations will not be able to afford labor at the new rates, but it is considerably better than what was proposed.”

Housing standards

The rule also establishes housing standards, including water requirements and circumstances where heat must be provided.

“Another highlight of the rule was a requirement of 4.5 gallons of water per man per day, which is not a big deal,” Sims said. “The enforcement will be important, though.”

For example, Sims posed that, if he hauls enough water to herders to last a week, and they have two gallons left on the day he delivers, will he be in violation of the rule?

“How they interpret the rule will be important and could set people up for non-compliance,” he continued.

Another aspect of concern is the requirement to provide cold weather clothing.

“I think there is a lot of interpretation that could be interpreted poorly for producers,” Sims said.

Delving into details

Hendrickson and Sims both noted that there are many aspects of the rule that are unclear, but as they comb through the details and as implementation begins, a clearer picture on the impacts will emerge.

“The devil is in the details,” Sims said. “The rule is not as bad as it could have been, but there will be significant impacts.”

“This rule will have an impact, and the wages will go up quite high in some cases,” Hendrickson adds, “but we haven’t fully analyzed the rule yet.”

The final rule will become effective 30 days after the date of publication in the Federal Register.

Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..