Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Transportation rejected proposed changes to federal transportation guidelines that some saw as harmful to farmers. In an era of rising gas prices and increased fuel costs, transportation is one of the biggest costs facing many farmers. Throughout the country, farmers have gone out of business in the face of ever increasing fuel prices and higher and higher maintenance costs for American farms.
The changes being considered by the Department of Transportation would have added to those costs, farm advocacy groups claim. Some of the suggested changes would have reclassified crop-share tenant farmers as for-hire carriers, requiring farmers to maintain at least $750,000 in insurance coverage, requiring DOT registration numbers for farm vehicles, and requiring farm haulers to apply for commercial driver’s licenses.
In the face of these suggested changes, farmers across the country lobbied their political representatives as well as farm advocacy groups, forcing the DOT to abandon considered changes.
According to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, the DOT has no plans to inject more regulation into an already tightly regulated industry. In addition to opposing further regulation, LaHood has pledged to work with farmers and state transportation agencies to ensure national standards across the U.S. “Farmers deserve to know that reasonable, common sense exemptions will continue to be consistently available to agricultural operations across the country,” LaHood stated.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer