IFB® Applauds FMCSA guidance on agricultural transportation regulations

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

            Illinois Farm Bureau® leaders today applauded the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) for listening to farmers' concerns about the interpretation of agricultural transportation regulations and commercial drivers' license provisions.

            In a statement yesterday, FMCSA, which operates as part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, said it has no intention of proposing new regulations governing the transportation of agricultural products. Further, FMCSA issued guidance to ensure that state transportation departments understand exemptions that enable farmers, their employees and their families to accomplish day-to-day work and transport their products to market.

            The FMCSA announcement follows an Action Request by IFB as well as months of communication between IFB and FMCSA about the need to properly interpret the rules. Earlier in the year, IFB brought to FMCSA's attention the fact that in Illinois, some farmers using crop share leasing were being told they would need to obtain a commercial Drivers License. The guidance from FMCSA clarifies that question and directs states to grant those farmers a CDL exemption.   

            The Agency has also concluded that most states already have in place common sense enforcement practices that allow farmers to safely move equipment to and from their fields. The FMCSA statement indicates that in areas where farm implements are common, the enforcement community and the agricultural community have achieved a mutual understanding of which safety regulations should apply to farm equipment on public roads.

             "Illinois Farm Bureau wishes to express its gratitude to FMCSA, to the Department of Transportation, and to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood for successfully resolving what we believe was the improper interpretation of these regulations," said Philip Nelson, President of the Illinois Farm Bureau. "We appreciate the Agency's and the Secretary's attention to this matter and their willingness to listen to our concerns. The guidance set forth removes much uncertainty for farmers just as we are moving into the fall harvest, one of our busiest times of year," said Nelson.

            Nelson also expressed optimism that IFB and FMCSA would continue the dialogue and could successfully resolve additional questions about transportation regulations for farmers as those questions arise.

            The Illinois Farm Bureau is a member of the American Farm Bureau Federation, a national organization of farmers and ranchers. Founded in 1916, IFB is a non-profit, membership organization controlled by farmers who join through their County Farm Bureau. IFB has a total membership of more than 426,000 and a voting membership of 83,290. IFB represents two out of three Illinois farmers.