I have recently received several dozen or so e-mails about the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (DOT) proposed rules dealing with Intra and Inter state commerce. Most of the e-mails point to this blog posting.
First and foremost, the DOT wants to reclassify farm vehicles and implements ? everything from tractors to cattle haulers ? as Commercial Motorized Vee to acquire a Commercial Drivers License (CDL), display DOT numbers, track mileage, limit hours worked, and maintain health cards while farms would have to monitor all of the above and pay highway use taxes (and probably higher insurance rates).hicles (CMVs), which would then mandate all farm workers to meet the same set of requirements that over-the-road truck drivers do. Farmers would have to acquire a Commercial Drivers License (CDL), display DOT numbers, track mileage, limit hours worked, and maintain health cards while farms would have to monitor all of the above and pay highway use taxes (and probably higher insurance rates).
To be completely honest, When I first read this, alarm bells went off in my head. This would surely be the final nail in the coffin for the ‘family farm.’ Before I post anything to the SDWC, I best do some research and get the full story, and not just one little snippet.
I found the complete notice here.
WARNING: DO NOT READ LATE NIGHT, OR AFTER CONSUMING ACHOLIC BEVERAGES.
After reading this document, It would appear that the DOT is trying to determine where they want to draw the line as to where interstate transportation begins for commodities transported over state lines. Basically, where does the state responsibility ends, the federal rules take effect. Federal rules include CDL’s, all the record keeping, etc. Many states have different rules, based on the commodity, and other factors. It was commonly assumed, that in South Dakota, the starting point was the grain elevator, where local farmers delivered their crops to.
From the notice:
For example, in one of the scenarios, grain is transported from farms to an elevator in the same State. Although no truckload or shipment is earmarked for any particular out-of-State purchaser, all of the grain is intended to be shipped to points outside the State. The grain is graded, tested, and blended at the elevator and then shipped to out-of-State points during the year following harvest. Under this scenario, the movement of the grain to the elevators is considered interstate commerce (40 FR 50671, 50674; October 31, 1975; copy in docket). Here, the intent of the farmers (whether or not explicitly articulated) was to have their grain shipped out of the State of origin in order to obtain the best price. The grain therefore remained in the stream of interstate commerce until it reached its destination.
Okay, so where is the starting point? When the grain is transported a public road? That would mean every truck, pick-up, tractor, wagon and trailer that carries grain falls in this category. When the grain is harvested? Then you can add combines to that list. However, a little futher down the document we get this:
Question: Do implements of husbandry meet the definitions of ?commercial motor vehicle? as used in 49 CFR 383.5 and 390.5?
Guidance: No. Implements of husbandry are outside the scope of these definitions when operated: (1) at a farm; or (2) on a public road open to unrestricted public travel, provided the equipment is not designed or used to travel at normal highway speeds in the stream of traffic. This equipment, however, must be operated in accordance with State and local safety laws and regulations as required by 49 CFR 392.2 and may be subject to State or local permit requirements with regard to escort vehicles, special markings, time of day, day of the week, and/or the specific route.
Now I am some what confused. Farmers will use tractors to till the land, plant the crops, pull sprayers and for other chores, all which would be legal; until the farmer loads a grain wagon and takes it to elevator, then it becomes a Commercial Motor Vehicle? This would bury a farmer in so much red tape they would need a tractor just to haul it away just to plant the crops.
While I can appreciate the end goal of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration efforts, and I applaud them for seeking public comment. Growing soybeans and corn here is much different than tomatoes and lettuce in California than Onions and cotton in Georgia. It would be unrealistic to come up with a set of blanket rules to cover every farm operation. This is one area they should really stay out of. There almost no need for this kind of intrusion.
The Federal government has all but made extinct the family farm
- Through subsidy programs that decide winners and losers in the markets.
- Environmental regulations making almost impossible for smaller operations to turn a profit.
- A complete alphabet soup of regulatory groups who impose their own regulations on farms and farmers.
Instead of adding more regulations The Federal Government should be working on way to open more markets and looking for ways to help our farmers. Right now, the best thing they can do is to get out of the way.