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Cattle Transportation Updates

Updated July 08, 2020

Heidi Carroll

SDSU Extension Livestock Stewardship Field Specialist & Beef Quality Assurance Coordinator

2018 Animal Care Wednesday Webinars

During the November 7th Animal Care Wednesday Webinar, updates regarding several livestock transportation topics were shared by two presenters. Chase DeCoite, NCBA Director of Beef Quality Assurance (BQA), discussed the Beef Quality Assurance Transportations (BQAT) certification program. Allison Rivera, NCBA Executive Director of Government Affairs, provided brief updates on the discussions happening in Washington D.C. around electronic logging devices (ELD), truck weights, and hours of service for truckers.

Beef Quality Assurance Transportation (BQAT)

The BQAT certification program is a national program for farmers, ranchers and professional drivers that haul beef or dairy cattle. Online certification has two courses for individuals to choose from, Professional Driver or Farmer/Rancher. The Professional Driver course is designed for hauling longer distances using tractor/trailer or cattle pots or individuals hauling direct to beef processing facilities. The Farmer/Rancher course is designed for shorter distance hauling using primarily stock trailers. Register online to take part in the online course.

Many producers and transporters ask, “Why do I need to get certified?” Retail food companies desire to purchase BQA certified beef and guarantee customers that the beef they sell is safe and handled humanely throughout the beef life cycle, from birth to harvest. In response to these sourcing claims, beef packers must in turn require producers and transporters to participate in the existing industry quality assurance certification programs, BQA or Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) for dairies and BQAT. Several of the major packers (Cargill, Tyson, National Beef, U.S. Premium Beef) made public announcements that their suppliers must become BQA certified by January 1, 2019 and cattle transporters must become BQAT certified by January 1, 2020. DeCoite said, “Many plants and buyers likely have their deadline ahead of January 1 so they don’t have to turn trucks away from the plant.” Individuals hauling direct to plants must have BQAT. All producers and transporters should discuss specific BQA and BQAT certification requirements with your buyer or packer representative, auction barn, or feedyard to be sure you know what certifications are expected.

A big shout out to all of the producers and transporters that have become BQAT certified already. The top five states for BQAT certifications are Kansas, Texas, Nebraska, Iowa, and South Dakota.

Legislation Update

A very brief outline of topics covered during the webinar is provided here. Please listen to the webinar recording for more details.

  • Truck weights: A proposal is drafted to allow trucks weighing up to 91,000 pounds on six axles to drive on interstate highways. Current work on a pilot program in ten states to allow this so impacts can be monitored.
  • Electronic Logging Devices: Over 300 devices are on the market and lead to some challenges with implementation and consistency. The device is attached to the truck’s engine and sends data to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), taking the place of written log books. An exemption for livestock haulers is in place until December 21, 2018 and may likely be extended or clarity provided.
  • 150 Air Mile Exemption: Rivera provided several examples of how this exemption would work. Challenges still exist and clarity is needed on how miles and hours are counted to minimize the potential that transporters or producers become rushed which could compromise use of low-stress animal handling practices.
  • Hours of Service: Bills exist in both the House and Senate, Transporting Livestock Across America Safely Act of 2018. A few highlights of it include: 300 air miles on the front end of haul, 15-18 hours drive time, rest when needed, 150 air miles on the back end of haul, and rest time determined by the number of hours you drive with the 15 to 18 hour range.

Safe transportation of cattle is critical for the beef industry across the United States. The renewed emphasis on keeping our roadways safe and protecting animal welfare and meat quality during handling and transport has led to food service and packers expecting BQA and BQAT certifications. Additionally, regulations and laws involving transportation are being evaluated.

Animal Care Wednesday Webinars

For more information about upcoming Animal Care Wednesday Webinars or BQA and BQAT certification in South Dakota, please contact Heidi Carroll. For questions regarding livestock transportation legislation, please contact Allison Rivera. For questions on the BQAT program and online modules, please contact Chase DeCoite.

The next Animal Care Wednesday Webinar is December 5, 2018 at 11:00 am CST. Log in to the Zoom meeting a few minutes prior to the start of the webinar.