New Trucking Regulations Pose Challenges to Livestock Industry

Cartoon delivery truck on road - deposit
Cartoon delivery truck on road - deposit

Long-distance trips for cattle now face regulatory roadblocks

Beginning at the start of 2023, federal regulations mandated truck drivers to adopt electronic logging devices, marking an end to paper log books. These logs require 13 hours of driving followed by a 10-hour break, with eight hours being uninterrupted. The aim is simple: tackle driver fatigue and ensure road safety.

Effects on the Livestock Market

The Fall Dilemma

In Olds, Alta., at the Pomeroy Hotel, a conference highlighted the hurdles of these new regulations. Rick Wright, from the Livestock Markets Association of Canada, painted a clear picture of potential problems, especially during the fall run. Key concerns included:

  • Capacity issues in smaller centres.
  • Potential impacts on auction marts during peak seasons.
  • Reduced number of cattle truckers available.
  • Additional regulations concerning feed and water rest.

In essence, Wright expressed fears about how the industry would manage the cattle movement, given these constraints. The new rules might strain smaller auction marts unequipped to accommodate resting cattle.

Northern Ontario: A Point of Concern

Jack Chaffe, Beef Farmers of Ontario’s president, has been an active voice against this issue. He highlighted that rest stops like Thunder Bay need advance bookings to avoid long wait times for truckers. Suggestions ranged from additional rest stops in places like Cochrane, Ont., to improved amenities for all truckers across northern Ontario.

Canadian Cattle Association’s Stance

Ryder Lee, CCA’s general manager, emphasized the welfare of livestock. He voiced concerns about insufficient rest stops in strategic locations like between Thunder Bay and Sault Ste. Marie.

Additionally, he pushed for clearer and consistent rules that ensure competitiveness, urging for practices akin to the U.S.

Learning from the U.S. Model

The consensus among industry stalwarts like Wright, Chaffe, and Lee is to adopt U.S. practices. In the U.S., truckers enjoy a 150-air-mile radius exemption for agricultural product transport. Within this radius, logging hours aren’t mandatory, which eases loading and unloading pressures. Adopting such practices could streamline operations and foster competitiveness.

The Lobbying Continues

While discussions with Transport Canada persist, the challenge remains in achieving federal-provincial coordination. Clarity on enforcement and alignment with U.S. practices are on top of the producer’s wish list.

But time is of the essence. As the fall season approaches, with cattle prices at an all-time high, the demand is set to surge. During the Livestock Markets Association convention in May, the industry deliberated on potential solutions. Yet, Wright emphasized that substantial change would only come if the trucking industry vocalized their concerns more assertively.

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