The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced today that it has no intention to propose new regulations governing the transport of agricultural products. The agency also released guidance designed to make sure states clearly understand the common sense exemptions that allow farmers, their employees, and their families to accomplish their day-to-day work and transport their products to market.
After hearing from concerned farmers earlier this year, FMCSA initiated this review to make sure states don't go overboard in enforcing regulations on agricultural operators, and to ensure consistent access to exemptions for farmers. 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,” said Secretary Ray LaHood. “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.”
This guidance – which does not impose any new rules on farmers – follows the Federal Register public notice which FMCSA issued on May 31, 2011, asking farmers, farm organizations and the public to give input on the agency’s longstanding safety rules.
"We want to make it absolutely clear that farmers will not be subjected to new and impractical safety regulations," said U.S. Transportation Deputy Secretary John Porcari. "The farm community can be confident that states will continue to follow the regulatory exemptions for farmers that have always worked so well."
“FMCSA is pleased with the input we’ve received from the agricultural community and members of Congress. We received about 1700 comments and the vast majority called for us to preserve the guidance that leaves states to carry out the farm exceptions as they have for many years.” said FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro. “We want to make crystal clear that we are not imposing any new regulations.”
Earlier this year, farm groups came to FMCSA with concerns that some states might not allow exemptions to Commercial Drivers License (CDL) requirements for certain farm operations using “crop-share” leasing.
When FMCSA investigated, there appeared to be wide differences among states in how the “for-hire” and related agricultural exceptions were being applied. In order to ensure consistency, FMCSA asked state officials to cease all new entrant safety audits on farmers engaged in “crop-share” leasing and issued the public notice soliciting input that would provide insight on the complex use of farm equipment on public roads. The guidance released today, which is based on that input, clarifies three critical issues: