The answer may be yes, depending on what the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration decides regarding three proposals that could have a serious impact on how you run your farm.
The agency is seeking public comments to these three questions:
- Whether agriculture is intra- or interstate commerce?
- What are the transportation implications regarding the factors states use in deciding whether farm vehicle drivers transporting agricultural commodities, farm supplies and equipment as part of a crop share agreement are subject to the commercial driver's license regulations?
- Whether off-road farm equipment or implements of husbandry operated on public roads for limited distances are considered commercial motor vehicles, and therefore, must drivers obtain a commercial driver’s license?
These proposals could have a serious impact on how ag operates, Elizabeth Jones, American Farm Bureau Federation director of Congressional relations told Agri Talk radio Host Mike Adams earlier this week. Not only would you have to invest in license fees and training, it also impacts the ability of farm youth to participate in farming operations because they won’t be able to drive a tractor because they don’t have a commercial driver’s license because they are not yet 18 years old. (Listen to the podcast here.)
Plus, as with any new rules and regulations, there would be additional paperwork to fill out, file and maintain. The proposed rules would affect farmers in every state and in every sector of agriculture.
“This could cause a lot of problems in terms of ag’s labor force,” Jones said. “It compounds the issue for an industry already dealing with labor challenges.”
This issue is important because Congress is now beginning to take up the next highway bill. All laws that affect highway safety (including these proposals) would be contained within that bill.
You have until June 30 to comment on the proposals. Access them here.
Jones also suggests you contact your Congressional representatives to make sure they understand the implications for agriculture and why it makes sense to keep ag’s transportation exemptions that are currently in place.