Trucking mandate may cost livestock producers
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP)-— A federal mandate requiring many motor carriers to install electronic logging devices could be costly to North Dakota's cattle industry.
Warren Zenker, who runs a cattle feeding operation near Elgin, told the Bismarck Tribune that electronic logging devices could hurt his business.
Drivers are allotted 11 hours on the road between mandated 10-hour rest times. Drivers may not be able to reach their destinations within the allowable hours if bad weather or other issues arise. Increasing enforcement through the devices will likely hike freight costs by putting a second driver in the truck to avoid violations on long trips.
Zenker said that the feed yards he sells to pay the freight. He said that if freight costs are suddenly raised from $4 to $8 per mile, feed yards may not be willing to pay $1.50 per pound for calves.
"Somewhere along the line it's going to make the cattle cheaper," said Zenker, who is also board president of the North Dakota Stockmen's Association. "Producers are the ones that are going to end up footing the bill."
Julie Ellingson, executive director of the state's stockmen's association, said that North Dakota is at a disadvantage because of its geographical location compared with Midwest feed yards.
Ellingson said that the other option for trucking companies is to find a place to unload the animals or let them stand in the truck while the driver sleeps. But that would put the animals' safety and welfare at risk, she said.
"The cargo we carry is different because they're live animals," Ellingson said.
Livestock haulers were granted a 90-day stay on the rule. The stay will last through mid-March.