USDA has revised its "28-hour rule" for livestock transportation to apply to trucks as well as trains. The rule dictates livestock -- poultry is exempt -- can only be on a truck for 28 hours, at which point they must be off-loaded and provided with food, water and at least 5 hours of rest.

The so-called "28-hour rule," which dates back to 1873, when cattle were predominantly shipped by rail, had only been applied to rail transport. Today, however, almost all livestock are shipped by truck, and animal-welfare groups had filed a legal petition calling on USDA to amend the regulations to include truck transport.

USDA spokesman Jim Rogers tells the agency's new interpretation applies to trucks.

"The term 'vehicle' in the regulation that applies here means vehicle," Rogers said. "It could be a train, it could be a truck, or some sort of transport -- it applies. Whereas before, when the law was originally written ... it specifically applied to rail cars."

Rogers also said some USDA employees were told three years ago that the 28-hour rule applied to trucks, but the agency only recently made that fact public.
-- Joe Roybal