Sens. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., Thursday introduced bi-partisan and bi-cameral legislation that would eliminate regulations requiring agriculture industry professionals to obtain a hazardous material endorsement before transporting sufficient amounts of diesel fuel necessary for a number of agricultural operations.
Under current regulations, any driver transporting more than 119 gallons of diesel fuel is required to obtain a Hazardous Materials endorsement on their Class A Commercial Driver's License.
The Senators' legislation exempts agribusiness participants from the requirement to obtain a hazardous material endorsement, while operating a service vehicle carrying diesel fuel in quantities of 1,000 gallons or less, if the tank containing diesel fuel is clearly marked. Exempted parties include all custom harvesters, agriculture retailers, agriculture business employees, agriculture cooperative employees, or agriculture producers who hold a Class A CDL.
"Our farmers and ranchers work tirelessly to provide the world with the most abundant and safe food supply ever known. The least we can do is remove frivolous government red tape that makes their efforts more onerous," Roberts said. "Requiring our producers to treat a truck transporting large amounts of diesel fuel in a similar fashion to hauling radioactive material is patently absurd and is simply another example of the federal government's overly burdensome regulations stifling our economy."
In a letter of support, twelve farm groups, including the American Farm Bureau Federation, explained that today's farm equipment have fuel tank capacities of 250 gallons or more.
"Restricting a farmer or harvester to hauling only 118 gallons at a time forces them to make multiple trips to refuel," the groups wrote. "This is a waste of valuable time and money during the busiest time of the year."
Sen. Heitkamp agreed, calling the current requirements "overregulation."
"This legislation will remove an unnecessary and costly requirement for custom harvesters and agribusinesses, saving money and time in the rural economy. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate to pass this important legislation into law," Heitkamp said.
Sens. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., and Mike Johanns, R-Neb., are original co-sponsors of the bill. Congressman Randy Neugebauer, R-Texas, and Congressman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., are introducing companion legislation in the House of Representatives.
Signing the letter of support are: Agricultural & Food Transporters Conference, American Farm Bureau Federation, American Soybean Association, Association of Equipment Manufacturers, Kansas Agribusiness Retailers Association, Kansas Cooperative Council, Kansas Grain & Feed Association, Montana Grain Growers Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Corn Growers Association, National Sorghum Producers and the U.S. Custom Harvesters, Inc.