Current truck weight laws leave farmers in the lurch


WASHINGTON — Farmers and ranchers hauling their own goods to market across relatively short distances should not be held to regulations intended for commercial long-haul drivers.

That’s what Mike Spradling, president of the Oklahoma Farm Bureau, told the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure’s Subcommittee on Highways and Transit July 9.

The Sand Springs, Okla., cattle and pecan producer testified on behalf of the American Farm Bureau Federation regarding the negative impact existing truck weight laws and regulations have on farmers and ranchers.

“Current weight limits imposed by the Safe, Accountable, Flexible and Efficient Transportation Equity Act (SAFETEA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) burden farmers and ranchers hauling their products to market,” said Spradling.

The law

The current federal definition of a CMV is a vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more.

Spradling said it takes very little to reach that threshold. For instance, a heavy duty pickup truck can often exceed the 10,001-pound weight limit.

The farmer said it makes interstate travel unreasonable by triggering requirements such as a commercial driver’s license and compliance with hours of service rules.

What’s needed

“Establishing a national threshold of 26,001 pounds would begin to eliminate the inconsistent and confusing system currently in place and free small farmers and ranchers from being regulated the same as commercial truck drivers,” Spradling said.

Additionally, the lack of uniformity between states causes confusion and frustration.

Spradling said Farm Bureau is pushing several changes to the agency’s current regulations: exempting border crossings between states with similar weight restrictions, raising the weight limit for CMVs to at least 26,001 pounds, or exempting state border crossings within the 150 air mile radius currently recognized.


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