Farmers and ranchers should not be required to obtain a commercial driver's license to haul grain or livestock to market, North Dakota Farm Bureau said in formal comments to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
The FMCSA requested public comment on how the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations should apply to farmers and ranchers. Specifically, it wanted three questions addressed:
1) How should FMCSA distinguish between intra- and inter-state commerce when a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) is operated within the boundaries of a single state?
2) Should FMCSA treat farmers with crop-share lease agreements as "for-hire" commercial carriers in new entrant safety audits?
3) Should implements of husbandry and other farm equipment be considered commercial motor vehicles?
"If adopted, this regulatory guidance will mean that farmers moving a single cow to the local auction market in a 16-foot trailer or farmers moving their own products to the local elevator will fall under the same regulatory regime as any commercial semi-truck moving products across the state and around the country," says North Dakota Farm Bureau Public Policy Director Sandy Clark. "Furthermore, the guidance would include combines or any vehicle pulling farm implements."
Currently, North Dakota exempts farm implements from the commercial definition. Defining farm vehicle drivers and/or tractors or other farm implements as commercial motor vehicles would result in farmers and ranchers losing those exemptions and require them to acquire CDLs, display Dept. of Transportation numbers, register owners' or farm names, limit mileage and obtain a medical card for the driver or maintain hours of service records more burdensome regulations.
Additionally, Clark says that if farmers are put in the category of "for hire" carriers, they would be regulated like commercial truckers.
More problematic is the issue of interstate versus intrastate commerce.
"FMCSA argues some farmers may be engaged in interstate commerce from the time they leave the farm gate even though they never enter into another state because their commodities, at some point in the supply chain, will," Clark says. "That is an unworkable definition of interstate commerce, as far as we are concerned."
"American agriculture is a dynamic enterprise that feeds our nation and the world. There is no one-size-fits-all description of our agricultural economy," Clark said. "We gladly shoulder our responsibility to keep our vehicles and machinery in safe working order, but more burdensome regulations on our farmers and ranchers are not the answer."
Source: ND Farm Bureau