Three Important AG Exempt Concepts
Top 3 Things to Know When Hauling AG
Three extremely important concepts to Agricultural (AG) haulers in relation to the “Agricultural Commodity” Exception in 49 CFR 395.1(k)(1) to the Hours of Service (HOS) Regulations are the exempt agricultural commodity, the source of the commodity, and the 150 air-mile radius circle. Each of these concepts is pivotal in meeting the requirements of the Agricultural Commodity Exemption set for by the FMCSA. Failure of a driver to fully understand each of these concepts could result in the improper use of the exemption, possibly a violation of FMCSA HOS rules.
What is an agricultural commodity?
Merriam Webster defines a commodity as an economic good: such as a product of agriculture or mining. Not all agricultural commodities are created equal though in the eyes of the federal government. In fact, the FMCSA has determined which commodities are considered “exempt” and qualify as a part of the Agricultural exception and which commodities are “non-exempt”. The FMCSA published, “Composite Commodity List, 31 pages to help determine a commodity’s exemption status at https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/sites/fmcsa.dot.gov/files/docs/Administrative_Ruling_119.pdf. The determination of whether a commodity is exempt or not exempt is often based on but not limited to
- The physical state of the commodity, i.e. whether it is alive, raw, frozen, or processed
- The extent of its processing,
- Its contents of the commodity after processing;
- Its packaging,
- Its intended use following processing, and its end consumer, i.e. containers, crates, and boxes that have been used in the movement of exempt commodities if being returned for reuse (movement of exempt commodities) they would be considered exempt.
But if the same containers, crates, and boxes have been reconditioned and sold from stock to new purchasers they would be considered non-exempt commodities. The exemption determination process is not easy or obvious. When in doubt, you should always refer to the information the FMCSA has provided or send an email question to email@example.com to validate the exemption status of a commodity. Just because a buddy has been hauling a commodity for years under the AG exemption doesn’t make it an exempt commodity. Don’t trust someone else with the fate of your business. Do the homework and get the questions answered by someone in authority, in writing!! You know what they say, “If you don’t have it in writing, it didn’t happen”!
How do you classify the commodity source?
The source of an agricultural commodity is “the point at which an agricultural commodity is loaded onto an unladen commercial motor vehicle. The location may be any intermediate storage or handling location away from the original source at the farm or field, provided the commodity retains its original form and is not significantly changed by any processing or packing.” When using the AG exemption, the driver must be driving to the source unladen (empty) for commodity pickup or driving away from the source for commodity delivery. It is as simple as this… if you are operating under the agricultural exemption without heading to or away from an exempted commodity source, you may be in violation of the AG exemption and subject to the FMCSA HOS rules. Multiple commodity pickups are allowed but remember it is the first pickup source that determines the center point for the 150 air-mile radius circle. The driver can not select the source that is best for their advantage. Livestock and insect haulers received additional hours of service relief as a result of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act by adding the final delivery destination point as the center of a second 150 air-mile radius circle.
150 Air-Mile Radius Circle for AG Exempt Activities
The concept of all AG exempt activities contained in a 150 air-mile radius circle, at first glance, seems to be fairly simple and easy to understand. What is so complicated about a circle with a 150-mile radius? It’s geometry, right? Well, yes and no. It is a fairly simple concept until the word “air” is added to the sentence. Unless you are a pilot or a sailor, you probably never heard the term “air mile or nautical mile” before. If you are like most people, they would define an air mile as a straight line drawn on any map “as the crow flies” Unfortunately, this definition of an air mile is incorrect. Before we give the correct definition of an air mile, also known as a nautical mile, we need to understand the difference between a statute mile and an air mile. Statute miles are units of length, commonly used in the definitive land measurement used in the United States and Great Britain, measuring 5,280 feet or eight furlongs. All distances on a standard US map or any map application, i.e. Rand McNally, Google maps, Apple maps, Waze, or Free Map Tools, whether a straight line, a circle radius, or following the curves of a road are all based on the statute mile. Nautical miles were originally worked out differently from statute miles, due to the nature of sea travel. They were measured using the arc of the Earth and were 1 percent of 1 degree of the Earth’s curve. As the curve of the Earth isn’t completely even and spherical, this meant that in some areas, a nautical mile was larger than in others. In 1954, America agreed that the international nautical mile of 1,852 meters (6,076.115 feet) would be adopted. So what does the comparison of an air mile to a statute mile look like? One air mile equals 1.15078 statute miles. An air mile is 15.078 percent longer than a statute mile.
Air-Miles vs Statute Miles
So what does all this have to do with the AG exemption and the 150-mile circle? It is the difference between a “round earth” versus a “flat earth” philosophy. The FMCSA decided to use an air mile for their 150-mile radius circle versus a statute mile. That means that a 150 air-mile radius equals a 172.61692 statute-mile radius. That means if you are using a statue scale on a flat earth map or map application your circle is TOO SMALL by 15.078 % or 22.62 miles!! Unfortunately, a lot of people including members of law enforcement aren’t aware of the difference between air versus statute miles. A great website to support you in any potential argument is https://www.distancefromto.net/ which provides the statute and nautical mile distance at the same time.
Automatic AG Exemption Functions in the My20 ELD
The exempt agricultural commodity, the source of the commodity, and the 150 air-mile radius circle are three key concepts in the use of the FMCSA Agricultural Exemption. Some people understand them and use the AG exemption correctly and are in compliance with the FMCSA rules. Other AG haulers are blissfully unaware of their meaning and significance. States are getting more strict on enforcement of the AG Exemption and have levied some pretty hefty fines and judgments against violators. Unfortunately, most AG haulers have ELD providers that can barely spell AG let alone have any AG-specific functionality or care about their AG customer’s needs.
Expecting a customer to manually determine an air-mile radius circle, manually determine the boundary, when a driver crosses that boundary, and then manually change the status to OFF Duty – PC with an AG Exempt annotation is so . . . . MANUAL.
There has to be a better way!! There is!! Check out the My20 ELD by Konexial. It’s the ONLY ELD application that has AG specific functions like:
- creation of a 150 air-mile radius circle based on address search with the latest geofencing technology in the application
- boundary crossings determined with the use of the geofencing and GPS technology in the My20 ELD application
- automatic duty status change from Driving to Off Duty – AG and timeclock freeze going into the circle and Off Duty – AG to Driving and timeclock resumption going out of the circle.
The My20 ELD application has all the functionality an AG Hauler needs and wants to be compliant inside or outside the 150 air-mile circle and manage his AG fleet.
Konexial provides superb technology to the transportation industry through the PaaS (platform as a service) model featuring fleet management, video, and safety management, asset tracking, fuel savings programs, and more.
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