A bill that will relieve farmers and ranchers from undue burdens and regulations when they transport their crops and livestock across state lines has the support of the American Farm Bureau Federation.
The bill, S. 3271, defines the weight of a commercial motor vehicle for agricultural related purposes as the minimum weight of the commercial vehicle in the state in which the vehicle is being operated, removing the federal violation when a truck crosses between states with weight definitions higher than the federal baseline. It was introduced by Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla.
The Inhofe bill is similar to H.R. 3098 introduced in the House by Reps. Dan Boren, D-Okla., and Mary Fallin, R-Okla. The House bill has been referred to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.
“Farmers and ranchers strive to ensure their motor vehicles are in a safe and proper operating condition and that they are used in a careful and responsible manner,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman. “AFBF believes that farmers and ranchers hauling their own products in their own vehicles, many in close proximity to their own property, should not be subject to the same regulations intended to govern full-time commercial truck drivers.”
AFBF sent a letter to all members of the Senate urging them to co-sponsor the bill.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) defines a commercial motor vehicle as having a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more. Under those same regulations, a state may exempt commercial motor vehicles up to 26, 001 pounds if they are engaged solely in intrastate commerce. Thirty-two states take advantage of this exemption.
Under current regulation, crossing state lines changes the classification from intrastate carrier to interstate carrier, triggering commercial requirements even if the truck has traveled only a short distance and both states recognize the 26,001-pound exemption.
The bills now being considered in Congress will allow farmers and ranchers to drive between those states without triggering the federal commercial motor vehicle definition of 10,001 pounds for interstate commerce.