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AFBF: Truck weight laws burdensome to farmers

Farmers and ranchers hauling their own goods to market across relatively short distances should not be held to regulations intended for commercial long-haul drivers, according to Mike Spradling, president of the Oklahoma Farm Bureau.

During a hearing before the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure’s Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, the Sand Springs, Okla., cattle and pecan producer testified on behalf of the American Farm Bureau Federation regarding the negative impact existing truck weight laws and regulations have on farmers and ranchers.

“Current weight limits imposed by the Safe, Accountable, Flexible and Efficient Transportation Equity Act and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations burden farmers and ranchers hauling their products to market,” said Spradling. “The American Farm Bureau Federation recommends changes to FMCSA’s rules regarding Commercial Motor Vehicles that will make them more workable for some farmers and ranchers while still maintaining the safety of rural roads.”

The current federal definition of a CMV is a vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more. A heavy duty pickup truck can often exceed the 10,001-pound weight limit. This makes interstate travel difficult by triggering requirements such as a commercial driver’s license and compliance with hours of service rules.

“Establishing a national threshold of 26,001 pounds would begin to eliminate the inconsistent and confusing system currently in place and free small farmers and ranchers from being regulated the same as commercial truck drivers,” Spradling said.

“Concentration within the agriculture industry has reduced the number of grain elevators, cotton gins and livestock markets, forcing farmers and ranchers to drive longer distances, often across state lines, to sell their commodities,” Spradling said.

Additionally, the lack of uniformity between states causes confusion and frustration, according to AFBF, which has proposed solutions to ease the burden of trucking regulations on some farmers and ranchers.

“Farm Bureau believes there are several changes that need to be made to the agency’s current regulations,” Spradling testified. “They include exempting border crossings between states with similar weight restrictions, raising the weight limit for CMVs to at least 26,001 pounds, or exempting state border crossings within the 150 air mile radius currently recognized by FMCSA.”

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