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U.S. DOT Seeking Comment on Proposed Regs for Farmers Use of Public Roads

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood often says that of all the Department's responsibilities, safety is the most important - nothing else comes close. All of us at USDOT are working to build a transportation network that creates jobs and ensures America's long-term competitiveness. Still, under Secretary LaHood's leadership, safety is always priority one.

At the same time, we realize that well-meaning regulations can be burdensome if the government isn't thoughtful about how they're put in place. Finding the right balance between the two can be challenging.

In many cases, farmers and farm equipment don't come under federal truck safety regulations when they are transporting products short distances, either within the farm or to a local market. This allows farmers to do business without meeting the same requirements as, for example, a company shipping goods across the country.

However, the lines of distinction aren't always clear. So in May, USDOT's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published a notice in the Federal Register seeking public feedback on how existing commercial truck safety regulations impact the agricultural community. The feedback we've received so far has reflected significant concern among the agricultural community. So we wanted to be clear about the purpose of this notice. We are not proposing new regulations for the farming community. What we are doing is seeking input and solutions from the community on three important issues:

• Interstate vs. intrastate commerce. We've heard feedback that more clarification is needed between the two. Since the difference between the two has been determined by the U.S. Supreme Court and other Federal courts, we have limited flexibility to provide additional guidelines, but we are interested in feedback on how we can provide better guidance within the constraints of established judicial rulings.

• Commercial Driver's License. Currently, Federal regulations allow states to make exceptions to Commercial Driver's license regulations for certain farm vehicle drivers, as long as their vehicles are not used by for-hire motor carriers. We've heard questions about whether drivers who work for "crop share" or similar arrangements are eligible for this exemption.

• Implements of Husbandry. In a perfect world, farm vehicles would only operate on farms, while commercial trucks would operate on public roads. The reality is that farm equipment not designed or intended for everyday use on public roads is often used for short trips at limited speeds. This creates a gray area for classification. In the absence of guidance, enforcement officials sometimes cite carriers for violating equipment rules, even when doing so would be impractical.

A key principle of the Obama Administration is that the best public policy comes from bringing the most people to the table. Although USDOT doesn't have a long history of working with the agricultural community, it's time we rolled up our sleeves together and got started.

We're well aware of the concern within the agricultural community regarding these three issues. The comment period is an opportunity to bring those concerns to the table. We're eager for input and ideas about how we can achieve our safety mission without tying America's farmers down with unnecessary burdens.

Nevertheless, the comment period only works if stakeholders take an active role in the conversation. At the request of a number of farm bureaus, we've just extended the comment period from June 30th to August 1st. This allows all participants more time to ensure that their voices are heard.

Everyone in this Administration - from President Obama, Vice President Biden, and Secretary LaHood on down - is committed to the long-term success of America's agricultural industry. In many ways, agriculture is the backbone of our economy - feeding hundreds of millions of Americans and billions more around the world. As the largest user of freight transportation in the nation, the agricultural industry is also one of USDOT's most important constituents. We hope that this comment period is the start of a new and productive relationship. We may not ultimately agree on every issue, but we will always listen -- and do our best to help America's farmers succeed.

Source: USDOT News Release, July 21, 2011

Posted July 26, 2011
COMMENTS: 11
Farm Vehicles
Posted from: Rick Conner, 8/11/11 at 5:47 AM CDT
These regulations would not affect me at all. On the other hand, I can't help but wonder if you people take your brains out and play with them for amusement. Leave the farmers alone--they feed you!
DOT and Agenda 21
Posted from: Lynne, 8/8/11 at 10:22 AM CDT
Several years ago we were ticketed by DOT on an empty farm truck & told we had to have med card, etc. We checked with DOT offices & they said yes, this was in effect long time ago...when Agenda 21 was put together in 1992. Friends w/dairy got ticketed a couple of years ago, going to get feed in empty truck. Told the same thing. This is the UNITED NATIONS plan for us and is unconstitutional. The animal ID scheme is part of, too. No using mules or horses, they are taking control of those, too. Taking control of all food is the goal (globally) - control the food, control the people. And running all independent business owners out of business, leaving only the mega corporations such as Monsanto and Tyson to produce our food. Our "alphabet agencies" (FDA, USDA, APHIS, EPA, etc.) are a shadow government run by these corporations without our constitutionally elected representatives involved, cranking out rules & regulations with the effect of law with huge fines, confiscation of property & prison time. THESE AGENCIES MUST BE DEFUNDED NOW and AGENDA 21 EXPOSED & STOPPED. Educate yourselves on Agenda 21 - it's coming at you from several directions including REAL-ID for people - you are part of the "national herd" and being "managed" and "branded" like the sheep and cattle you are....
Fed solution in search of a problem
Posted from: Mike Lessiter, 8/7/11 at 5:05 PM CDT
This subject made front-page news in Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel today. Sen. John Thune (R-SD) puts it very well: "This is yet another federal government solution in search of a problem."
You can read full article at http://ow.ly/5XgU4
DOT in Agriculture
Posted from: Amos Elvis, 8/6/11 at 7:12 AM CDT
Why do you not find someone else to pick on. Our corn should be used for food not ethanol. Take ethanol out of fuel. Yhat is what you should be doing. It's bad for motors and farm equiptment.
DOT & Farm Equiptment
Posted from: Amos Elvis, 8/6/11 at 7:07 AM CDT
The DOT should keep it's nose out of farmers Business. Farmer feed YOU! You have no idea on how to run a farm as a business. Keep the Obama Administration out of Farming in the United States. This is not what you should be doing.
tractors
Posted from: john everhart, 8/5/11 at 11:00 PM CDT
I think we will have to back to MULES !!
Posted from: Lee Cornell, 8/5/11 at 12:00 AM CDT
As a life long farmer and a strong defender of the basic rights of man I can tell you that you are opening a can of worms that youll wish you hadnt...your regs will never appliy to my farm or my equiptment! Pay attention to real issues and leave us alone!!
Proposed reg for Farmers
Posted from: Don Lancaster, 8/4/11 at 10:10 PM CDT
Mr LaHood, we have bigger fish to fry. A lot of farms use their children to drive tractors combines, etc. Family business, that the govt don't need to be in. While I relizew safety is a issue in areas, in rural Texas we are used to slow moving vehicles
DOT in Agriculture
Posted from: Mike, 8/1/11 at 12:09 PM CDT
I think government is doing what government often does, tring to create a problem where one does not exist. With the dire state of our economy & our unsustainable & climbing debt, why are we discussing this issue ?
Farm Vehicle
Posted from: Dave Miller, 7/31/11 at 3:28 PM CDT
Get DOT Completely out of Farm Issues. Congress needs to reactivate the Committee on Un-American Activities.
Posted from: Aaron Cosby, 7/28/11 at 11:30 AM CDT
I think that the US DOT should worry about something that really matters, work on the problems they already have, and quit making up problems!

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