DOT to farmers: No new, impractical regulations on ag transportation

WASHINGTON – Aiming to alleviate farmers’ fears, U.S. transportation officials said this week they won’t impose “new and impractical” regulations that might burden the agricultural industry.

The statement is in response to a recent review by the DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which sought input on proposed changes to regulations that exempts farmers from having to carry commercial driver’s licenses.

The public-comment period ended July 31, with many farmers and political leaders opposing any changes, including North Dakota Republican Rep. Rick Berg.

The FMCSA said disparities in how exemptions were implemented across different states prompted a review of current policies.

Instead of adding regulations, federal transportation officials said they’ll issue revamped guidelines to state officials to make sure they clearly understand the exemptions.

A statement from the DOT said: “No regulations will be proposed for any new safety requirements or changes to the rules governing the transport of agricultural products, farm machinery, or farm supplies to or from a farm.”

“We have no intention of instituting onerous regulations on the hardworking farmers who feed our country and fuel our economy,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement.

“Farmers deserve to know that reasonable, common sense exemptions will continue to be consistently available to agricultural operations across the country, and that’s why we released this guidance,” LaHood said.

The FMCSA received about 1,700 comments from across the country, and “the vast majority” wanted no changes to the exemptions, the DOT said.

“We want to make crystal clear that we are not imposing any new regulations,” FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro said.