Last week, on July 26, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad issued a disaster emergency proclamation that will provide relief to Iowa farmers who are being hit hard by this summer's continued extreme drought.
This proclamation took effect on July 26 and will last for the next 60 days. The assistance comes in the form of a suspension of state laws and regulations affecting the transport of hay, straw and stover. The drought has destroyed or depleted sources of these forages that are necessary for livestock production and livestock feed. Following are the rules and explanation of the proclamation, as released to the media and the general public by the governor's staff.
Specifically, this proclamation allows for several actions to assist farmers
* Overweight loads: Hay, straw and stover may be transported in loads weighing up to 90,000 pounds gross weight without obtaining an overweight permit normally required by the Iowa Department of Transportation. Overweight loads cannot travel on the Interstate highways without a permit. This proclamation issued by Gov. Branstad applies to non-interstate roadways.
Specific axle weight limits do apply. Visit the Iowa DOT's website www.iowa.dot.gov to see the maximum gross weight table and determine the legal limits for your vehicle/trailer combination. A vehicle that is overweight, but not over width, can travel at all hours.
* Over width loads: A vehicle transporting these hay, straw and stover bales can be over width, without an Iowa DOT permit, if they do not exceed 12 feet 5 inches wide. An over width load can travel on any road, including the interstate, as long as its gross weight does not exceed 80,000 pounds. Movement must occur between the hours of 30 minutes before sunrise and 30 minutes after sunset. All flags, signs and lights normally required are still needed.
* Overweight and over width loads: A vehicle transporting these goods can be both over width, up to 12 feet 5 inches, and overweight, up to 90,000 pounds. However, these vehicles cannot travel on the interstate.
* Driver hours of service: The driver hours-of-service regulations pertaining to persons transporting these specific agricultural goods are suspended. Certain rest periods must be provided to drivers to prevent fatigued or ill drivers from operating on the roadways.
For additional details, call 800-925-6469 or visit the Iowa DOT's website at www.iowadot.gov where a question and answer sheet can be found.
Leaders pledge continued efforts in addressing the drought's impact Iowa
Gov. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds used their weekly press conference last week to highlight the state's ongoing efforts to address the impact of this summer's drought in Iowa. The most recent USDA drought monitor shows that almost 75% of Iowa is now in the D-2 severe drought stage and roughly 25% in the D-3 extreme drought stage. At the time of the governor and lieutenant governor's drought summit in Mt. Pleasant three weeks ago, just 12% of Iowa's land was considered in a D-2 severe drought stage.
Branstad and Reynolds say they'll continue their efforts, and want to ensure Iowans are aware of the following measures that have been taken thus far:
* Two weeks ago, the governor sent a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack informing him of the worsening conditions in Iowa, where he requested the secretary to declare Secretarial Disaster designations for Iowa counties as soon as they qualify. Also in the letter, the governor asked the USDA Secretary to open up CRP lands as soon as federal guidelines allow. Vilsack quickly announced the USDA would open CRP lands for emergency grazing in 26 counties in Iowa and that CRP lands will be open for the rest of counties—statewide—on August 2 for haying and grazing.