Good news for truckers who transport farm and livestock products on the west coast.
U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) introduced a bipartisan amendment to the transportation bill on the Senate floor last week that would cut red tape for farmers and ranchers transporting their products. The amendment, co-sponsored by Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), would allow farmers and ranchers who live near state borders to transport their products to the closest processing facility even if it may be in a neighboring state. Over-regulation is an increasing problem within the transportation industry, and lawmakers who are able to reduce regulatory oversight on trucking continue to be marginalized.
In current law, farmers are exempt from a set of unnecessary regulations when they transport their products in farm vehicles, but only as long as they are transporting the products within the same state. This is problematic for farmers and ranchers who live near state borders.
If current law is not changed, for farmers to cross state borders it means burdensome regulations like:
- Vehicle inspections for every trip the farm vehicle takes, even if the vehicle is simply driving from the field to the barn
- Adhering to reporting requirements like hours of service rules, even though the farmer is driving an hour down the road to a mill
- Obtaining medical certifications meant for commercial truck drivers.
Senator Merkley’s amendment is narrowly tailored to only cover farm vehicles transporting products. The exemption only applies if the following criteria are met:
- The vehicle must be registered in the state as a farm vehicle and driven by the farm or ranch owner, an employee or family member
- The farm vehicle must be transporting to or from the farm agricultural commodities, livestock, or machinery and supplies
- The farm vehicle must be either 26,001 lbs or less or, if heavier than 26,001 lbs, be driven only within the state or a 150 air mile radius of the farm
American Farm Bureau Federation supports the amendment and is working to ensure its passage.