Courtesy Thomas Northcut/ Photodisc/ Thinkstock
If an amendment to the Highway Bill passes, farm trucks will be exempt from restrictions placed on commerically licensed truck drivers.
The U.S. Senate recently passed an amendment to S.1813, the transportation or Highway Bill that would exempt farm trucks from the restrictions of commercially licensed truck drivers. The amendment, introduced by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), has been supported by a number of agriculture organizations, including the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Farmers Union and the National Cattleman’s Beef Association, and awaits House approval.
According to AFBF president Bob Stallman, some states currently exempt farm vehicles from federally imposed regulations while others do not, presenting complications for farmers who must cross borders to haul their products locally. The amendment would allow all states to exempt farm trucks from federal regulations, such as logging hours of service and performing vehicle inspections, without the state’s transportation funding being terminated.
“Transportation laws and regulations should not saddle farmers with additional regulatory hurdles simply because they farm closer to a processor in another state than a processor in their own state,” says NFU president Roger Johnson. “Farmers who transport their product outside the state should be exempted from some regulatory burdens, just like other farmers who don’t live near state borders.”
Kent Bacus, NCBA’s associate director of legislative affairs echoes Johnson’s sentiments.
“Hauling livestock to market two times a year is hardly the same as hauling goods across the country on a daily basis,” Bacus says. “Subjecting family farmers and ranchers to costly requirements is an unnecessary burden we cannot afford.”
A 90-day extension to the current bill has been approved through June 30, 2012, while the House finishes revisions to the bill.