Updated May 19, 2020
As agriculture has been designated an essential industry during the response to COVID-19, a number of exemptions or relaxing of regulations have been put in place by both the state and federal government.
It is crucial that our nation’s farmers have the supplies they need and an efficient pipeline to get products to access points so consumers can feed their families.
As with every sector during these challenging times, things are changing rapidly. Below are some resources to review to help make sure you know of any restrictions or exemptions that apply in hauling agricultural products and supplies. We have tried to link pages we feel will be updated as things change.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations
The president’s emergency declaration provides regulatory relief for commercial motor vehicle operations providing direct assistance in support of emergency relief efforts related to the COVID-19 outbreaks, including transportation to meet immediate needs. In addition to other essential items, included in the declaration are transportation needs related to the production of food, paper products and other groceries for emergency restocking of distribution centers or stores. Direct assistance does not include routine commercial deliveries, including mixed loads with a nominal quantity of qualifying emergency relief added to obtain the benefits of this emergency declaration.
A few FAQ related to agriculture are here, but make sure you check the complete FMCSA FAQ page linked above.
Q: Are loads that include supplies related to direct assistance under the emergency declaration mixed with other, un-related materials covered under the declaration?
A: Generally, yes; however, mixed loads with only a nominal quantity of qualifying emergency relief added to obtain the benefits of this emergency declaration are not covered.
Q: Are livestock a covered commodity under the terms of the emergency declaration?
A: Yes, livestock are covered as a precursor to food. The emergency declaration covers “immediate precursor raw materials—such as paper, plastic or alcohol—that are required and to be used for the manufacture of items including food needed for the emergency restocking of stores.
Q: Is the driver required to use a paper logbook or ELD?
A: No, the emergency exemption includes relief from all the hours-of service regulations in 49 CFR part 395, including the recordkeeping requirements (i.e., records of duty status (RODS).
Q: What documentation is needed to verify that the driver is operating under the exemption?
A: There is no specific documentation required for verification. Retention of ordinary business records, such as the bill of lading, may be useful later for the convenience of the motor carrier and driver, to document use of the exemption during a future inspection or enforcement action.
Also: MCSA issues guidance document that provides clarity to DOT-regulated employers, employees and service agents on conducting DOT drug-and-alcohol testing given concerns about COVID-19.
DMV and VDOT
The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, along with the Department of Transportation has authorized a temporary waiver of registration and licensing requirements for carriers, and the commissioner of highways authorizes a temporary waiver of normal weight and width restrictions on roads controlled by VDOT, for the express purpose of ensuring that emergency essential supplies and services reach impacted areas in timely manner.
It’s important to remember weight exemptions are not valid on posted structures for restricted weight. Also note, as in the case of the FMCSA exemptions, the DMV/VDOT exemption shall not exceed the duration of the motor carrier's or driver’s direct assistance in providing emergency relief, or 30 days from the initial declaration of emergency, whichever is less. View waiver
DMV response to COVID-19:
Beginning May 18, 2020, certain DMV offices will reopen for specific services by appointment only as part of a phased reopening plan. Please visit dmvnow.com/reopening for more information.
To help reduce risk as people return to our offices, DMV continue to encourage employees and customers to follow the recommendations of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Virginia Department of Health in regards to personal health and social distancing.
Driver’s License/ID card and Vehicle Registration
The validity of driver’s licenses and identification cards expiring on or before June 10, 2020 is extended for 90 days, not to exceed July 31, 2020. This means that a customer whose credential expires between March 15 and May 1 will have an additional 90 days beyond the expiration date to renew and credentials with an expiration date from May 2 to June 10 will expire on July 31, 2020. This includes credentials for individuals aged 75 and older who are typically required to visit a DMV office to renew.
Vehicle registrations that expire in March and April are extended for 90 days, and those expiring in May are extended for 60 days.
All renewal fees (driver's license, identification card and vehicle registration) will remain the same and no late fees will be assessed for customers who renew during the extension period. The month in which your new credential expires will also not change from the original date of expiration. For example, a customer with a vehicle registration originally expiring in May 2020 will have until July 2020 to renew, and the new credential will be valid until May 2021. Virginians eligible to renew their licenses, identification cards, or vehicle registration online are encouraged to take advantage of those services. Mail-in options are also available for a number of transactions, such as vehicle registration, original title transactions, and driver's license renewal, if mailed a notice.
Intrastate Operating Authority
DMV is automatically extending until May 31, 2020 the validity period of every license, permit, and certificate issued to businesses involved in the transportation of people or property for hire. The extension applies to all credentials that otherwise would expire in March and April of this year.
In addition, DMV is offering relief to motor carriers who wish to temporarily cease operations and cancel motor vehicle liability insurance due to the impact of COVID-19 and still keep their operating authority. In order to obtain this relief, you must agree to authorize DMV to deactivate all for-hire designated vehicle registrations associated with your operating authority. Once its registration has been deactivated, a vehicle may not be lawfully driven on Virginia highways. For further information, please contact DMV Motor Carrier Services at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The extension applies to vehicles registered under the International Registration Plan. The governor has asked all law enforcement agencies in all IRP member jurisdictions refrain from taking action against vehicles with Virginia apportioned license plates expiring in March and April 2020, until the 60-day extension period has ended.
Vehicle registrations that expire in March and April are extended for 60 days.
Those eligible to renew their licenses, identification cards or vehicle registration online are encouraged to take advantage of those services. Mail-in options are also available for a number of transactions such as vehicle registration, original title transactions and driver's license renewal, if mailed a notice.
If in-person service is needed, these customers will have an additional 60 days to renew credentials without a late fee.
Review DMV’s complete information related to the COVID-19 response.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Virginia Department of Health
Original Title Transactions
Driver's License Renewal
Virginia State Police - Vehicle inspections
On March 12, 2020, Gov. Northam directed the superintendent of the Virginia Department of State Police to suspend enforcing vehicle safety inspections for 60 days.
However, the executive directive does not extend/suspend a Vehicle Safety Inspection expiration date. The expiration is still valid.
VSP safety inspection troopers have been working with Certified Inspection Stations to adhere to the guidelines put in place by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The inspection stations have been advised on how to modify the inspection process, so a driver does not need to exit his/her vehicle nor does the inspector have to enter the vehicle in order to conduct the official inspection.
If you would like to speak with a safety inspection trooper within your region regarding the expiration of your vehicle's safety inspection decal, please contact the appropriate area office from the VSP list.
Virginia State Police issue enforcement practices during Governor’s Northam’s “stay at home” directive.
Read the directive here.
Virginia Farm Bureau Federation’s general resource page
Virginia Farm Bureau has a wealth of information on state and federal regulations for transportation and other issues related to running your farm.