ISA Helps Keep Excessive Farm Transportation Restrictions at Bay
Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) leaders are pleased comments provided to the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) have helped prevent creation of any new restrictive transportation regulations with regard to licensing, commodity transport and other issues.
"Illinois soybean farmers joined with the American Soybean Association and other agricultural organizations in submitting comments to oppose any new regulations," says Matt Hughes, ISA chairman and soybean farmer from Shirley, Ill. "In response, the agency came out with a very definitive statement saying that no new regulations will be issued, and in fact, are reinforcing the ability of states to use common sense exemptions for farmers and farm machinery."
After hearing from concerned farmers, FMCSA announced that no regulations would be proposed for safety requirements and no changes would be made to rules governing the transport of agricultural products, farm machinery or farm supplies to or from a farm, allowing farmers, their employees and families to accomplish day-to-day work and transport products to market.
"We have no intention of instituting onerous regulations on the hardworking farmers who feed our country and fuel our economy," noted U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "Farmers deserve to know that reasonable, common sense exemptions will continue to be consistently available to ag operations across the country, and that’s why we released the guidance."
Added U.S. Transportation Deputy Secretary John Porcari, "We want to make it absolutely clear that farmers will not be subjected to new and impractical safety regulations."
FMCSA received about 1,700 comments; the vast majority calling for the administration to preserve the guidance that leaves states to carry out farm exceptions. "We want to make crystal clear that we are not imposing any new regulations," says FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro.
Farm groups had taken to FMCSA concerns that some states might not allow exemptions to Commercial Drivers License (CDL) requirements for certain farm operations using "crop-share" leasing. FMCSA investigations revealed wide differences among states in how "for-hire" and related agricultural exceptions were applied. FMCSA has asked state officials to cease all new entrant safety audits on farmers engaged in crop-share leasing and issued the public notice soliciting input that would provide insight on complex use of farm equipment on public roads.
The agency concluded that new regulatory guidance concerning distinction between interstate and intrastate commerce is not necessary, since states and industry have common understanding. In addition, the agency determined farmers who rent land for a share of the crops and haul their own and their landlord’s crops to market should have access to agricultural CDL exemptions given by states. Finally, FMCSA determined that most states have already adopted common sense enforcement practices that allow farmers to safely move equipment to and from fields.
The Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) is the statewide organization for Illinois soybean growers. The farmers on its board administer soybean checkoff funds to support research, promotions, and educational programs designed to increase demand for Illinois soybeans and administer legislation and membership programs. For more information, visit: www.ilsoy.org