Proposed Driving Rules
Proposed Driving Rules. I’m Greg Martin with today’s Line On Agriculture.
The Department of Transportation is asking farmers and ranchers to respond to three proposals that could have a serious impact on their ability to run their farms and ranches. The issues deal with whether agriculture is inter- or intrastate commerce and whether drivers of farm equipment should be required to have commercial driver’s licenses.
JONES: Currently during planting and harvesting times you can run your vehicles long enough for you to get your crops in or out of the field. If they made the determination that a farmer or rancher needed a commercial driver’s license for a tractor or other implement. They have to go through training. There is kind of an apprentice period almost with issuing commercial driver’s licenses and there is the added fees that go along with that. So all across the nation you’re looking at restrictions in terms of when you can get things in and out of the field and you’re looking at more expenses in terms of being able to operate your farm vehicles.
American Farm Bureau Transportation Specialist Elizabeth Jones says as the Department of Transportation tries to learn more about how new rules would affect U.S. agriculture, farmers and ranchers need to explain how they would affect farm labor.
JONES: Farmers would have to lay out the money for the commercial driver’s license and if you have employees for whom English may not be their first language, that could be problematic. Also because other industries need CDLs you could have a situation where farmers and ranchers pay to help their employees get those licenses but then at the end of the day the employee takes it elsewhere. You have that added problem of young people not being able to participate in their family farm because they won’t be able to drive a tractor because they don’t have a commercial driver’s license because they aren’t 18 yet.
Jones says farmers and ranchers should not only contact DOT about the issue, but also reach out to their members of Congress.
JONES: Congress is now beginning to take up the next highway bill. All of the laws that affect highway safety are contained within the highway bill. So the more educating farmers and ranchers can do with their members of Congress through phone calls and letters, all of those things are important to let Congress know why we need the exemptions that we currently have.
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