"How to blog about something we aren't going to do?" That's the challenge I'm facing today, and I'll just say it right out: DOT has no intention to propose new regulations governing the transport of agricultural products.
What are we going to do? We're releasing guidance for states to make sure they clearly understand the very common-sense exceptions that allow farmers, their employees, and their family members to accomplish their day-to-day work and get their products to market.
Growing up and raising a family in central Illinois, I understand that farmers don't just put food on our tables; they also help fuel our economy. It’s not an easy life, and we are not about to make that critical job any harder.
So, far from adding onerous regulations to the burden our nation's hardworking farmers are already shouldering, we are trying to make sure states don't go overboard in enforcing regulations on those who operate agricultural vehicles. We want farmers to know that reasonable exemptions will continue to be consistently available to them.
As Deputy Secretary John Porcari said, "We want to make it absolutely clear that farmers will not be subjected to new and impractical safety regulations. The farm community can be confident that states will continue to follow the regulatory exemptions for farmers that have always worked so well."
The new guidance clarifies three areas of concern to farmers:
Commercial Driver's License: FMCSA has determined that farmers who rent their land for a share of the crops and haul their own and the landlord’s crops to market should have access to a state's agricultural CDL exemptions. To be clear: DOT is not proposing new regulation requiring farm vehicle operators to obtain CDLs.
Interstate and intrastate commerce: Generally, the states and the industry have a common understanding on this point. When specific situations arise, FMCSA will work with stakeholders to provide case-specific clarification.
Implements of husbandry: Sometimes farmers must use public roads to for short trips. FMCSA believes that most states have already adopted common sense enforcement practices allowing farmers to safely move equipment to and from their fields.
At DOT, safety is always our highest priority. And we think today's guidance is consistent with FMCSA's commitment to both road safety and the long-term success of America's farmers. I hope you'll agree.