Twenty-two Senators have signed a letter voicing concerns with proposed regulations from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The letter rebuts several of the assumptions made in the proposed regulations. Senators write that farmers generally market products at the closest market that offers the best prices and then the farmer relinquishes ownership and control of their crops and livestock. The letter also states that the agency incorrectly assumes the crops or animals will eventually be sold or processed in another state. The Senators go on to question the agency's interpretation of crop-share agreements.
Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, one of the signatories on the letter, calls the regulations another sign of the disconnect between Washington bureaucrats and rural America. He says they would cause significant burdens on farmers as they transport their farm commodities.
Others signing the letter include John Thune, R-S.D., Pat Roberts, R-Kan., Richard Lugar, R-Ind., Mark Kirk, R-Ill., Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, John Boozman, R-Ark., Roy Blunt, R-Mo., James Inhofe, R-Okla., Jerry Moran, R-Kan., John Hoeven, R-N.D., Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Ben Nelson, D-Neb., Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., Thad Cochran, R-Miss., Mike Johanns, R-Neb., Tim Johnson, D-S.D., Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Kent Conrad, D-N.D.
The National Corn Growers Association is also making its voice heard with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The group has submitted comments on proposed guidance for operators of farm vehicles and off-road agricultural equipment. NCGA President Bart Schott says there are several areas of concern that could impact growers including whether grain transported from the farm to the local elevator should be defined as interstate commerce. If a broad definition of interstate commerce is used he says growers could be forced to obtain commercial driver's licenses for hauling their crop even short distances within state boundaries.
Schott adds that those farmers transporting grain under a share-crop agreement should not be treated as for-hire carriers. He says NCGA is also opposed to any efforts to classify farming equipment as commercial motor vehicles. While highway safety is important to NCGA's members and the entire ag community, Schott says safe roads can be achieved without over-regulating the transport of grain and farm equipment.