Livestock producers and haulers are concerned about new regulations, which are just a few days away from being implemented, that will have a negative impact on Montana's livestock industry.
“I’m not sure the producers and I’m not sure a lot of the people in this part of the world understand the severity of this but in my mind, it’s the number one thing we’re facing in the livestock industry right now," Livestock Marketing Association Director and Billings auction market owner Joe Goggins said.
New regulations regarding electronic logging devices (ELD) have yet to be fully implemented by livestock haulers, but time is running out.
"This transportation thing could really affect the value of these cattle that are over 11, 12, or 13 hours from the Corn Belt," Goggins said. "They like to buy these cattle from out here but if they're forced to unload these cattle before they get them to their destination, you're going to have a lot of animal welfare type issues."
Goggins added that there's nowhere to unload the cattle and a person cannot get the cattle very far down the road in 11 hours.
It’s not just the cattle industry that’ll be affected.
Big Sandy rancher Stan Weaver is an officer with the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) and he said people who haul horses will also be subject to the new ELD regulations.
"We look at it as a really bad animal welfare issue. You know if these cattle trucks or horse trucks have to rest for 10 hours, they’re going to be flooding these truck stops and rest areas and these cattle and horses are going to be sitting there," Weave said. “Even horse trailers are affected by this. It will affect our shows and will devastate college rodeo and pro rodeo. This is serious and people need to get involved.”
Groups like the Livestock Marketing Association (LMA), AQHA, and others are working desperately for more time because among other concerns, the technology is far from perfect.
“They’re having trouble with ELDs. The devices haven’t been working right and there’s a lot of issues with them. Right now, they’re fighting desperately trying to get us a stay so we can address these hours of use. But what we need to do is call these senators and representatives and tell them the severity because it’s too late after its done," Goggins said.
The new rules went into effect on December 18 for most commercial truckers but a 90-day delay was imposed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association on the same day for livestock haulers so the agency could evaluate issues with the mandate.
The 90-day delay ends Sunday, March 18.