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Shields working to relax regulations on livestock transport

Posted on February 15, 2024 by Vauxhall Advance

By Cal Braid
Vauxhall Advance
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Martin Shields, MP for Bow River, has an eye on the clock. He’s working to introduce a private members bill that would ease up the time restrictions that lock truck drivers into a tight window as they’re moving livestock from place to place. He said that truckers have to contend with digital logs in trucks that start almost as soon as the truck is in gear. “Up until recently, trucks had a paper log and drivers would fill it out. This has moved to a digital one. So if the truck starts moving at three to five kilometers an hour, the digital log kicks in and it’s got about 12 hours.”

“The challenge with the livestock industry is for the safety of animals. You need to pick them up at a location and deliver them to a location. If you get your 12 hours, you’ve got to do one of two things: if you’re not at the location you’ve got to break the law and drive past it to get to the place for the safety of the animals, or two, you stop.”

In his proposal letter for amending the Motor Vehicle Act, he said the new bill “seeks to harmonize Canadian electronic logging device laws with those of the United States by providing an ELD exemption within a 240-km radius of the point of origin and destination of the journey for those transporting livestock or insects.”

He said animals in transport need a free flow of air and a suitable temperature. He reiterated that the U.S. has an exemption for livestock carriers, where drivers have leeway outside of the transport window that amounts to about 240 km on each end of their trip. “It’s about three hours,” he said. “The private members bill would line up and have an exemption to change the regulations so that it matches the American one.”

Shields said that the broad term ‘livestock’ applies even to bees. “It’s one that people usually don’t come across. A lot of the bees out of western Canada, particularly Alberta, are moved to the lower mainland for the winter. Less risk of kill when you get to minus 50. But to move them back, to get a 12-hour straight drive time through to Alberta…that means you didn’t stop for an accident and you didn’t stop for any number of things, and you can’t make it in 12 hours. So, bees do one of two things when you stop: the colonies heat up and they die, or they’re hungry and they fly off. This is a challenge in a very niche industry.”

“What people would be more familiar with is hauling (animal) livestock for longer distances. We move a lot of livestock east-west in this country and there are just not enough places to stop. So they may be stopped on the side of a highway if they run out of time, which is not a good thing. Or they need to be in a place where they can unload. There are some places, but if you have anything that delays you, you’re not going to get to that stopping point where you can unload them and water them and get them back on.”

The private members bill is moving through the necessary channels to meet approval. Shields  has met with feedlot operators and cattle producers and is ready to match the exemption to the one used in America.

“If you go with a truck to a feedlot, as soon as you move that truck, the clock starts. Sometimes animals load very easily and quietly and sometimes it’s a little more challenging. You can easily eat up a bunch of time just in the area where you’re loading up the livestock. There are a variety of things that can eat up the time, and we want to make it as safe as possible for the transition and transportation.”

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