2010-10-14 / Local & State

Farm Truck Driver Regulatory Relief Approved

Farmers urge governor to sign legislation

Legislation sought by Pennsylvania Farm Bureau (PFB) to relieve local agricultural vehicle drivers from stringent federal commercial trucking standards have been approved as part of a transportation bill passed by the General Assembly and sent to Gov. Rendell. The changes were made in an effort to restore exemptions from commercial trucking regulations provided to vehicles and drivers of vehicles used around the farm that were recently taken away by state regulations changes.

The legislation will remove state authority to impose federal trucking standards on intrastate farm trucks and drivers of farm trucks (operated alone or in combination) with an actual weight or weight rating of 26,000 pounds or less. It will also remove authority to impose federal standards on intrastate farm machinery designed and predominantly used for off-road farm use and drivers of farm machinery will also be exempt (regardless of weight or operation as part of a combination).

“The legislation will relieve farmers from some costly and time-consuming federal trucking regulations to the maximum degree allowed under federal law,” said PFB President Carl T. Shaffer.

The legislative changes were initially sidetracked by representatives of state agencies who were concerned that they would somehow impact funding from the federal government.

“Pennsylvania Farm Bureau worked directly with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to ensure the final language in the bill would be consistent with federal standards and would not jeopardize loss of federal funding for Pennsylvania,” added Shaffer.

Farm Bureau notes that since federal regulations only allow states to exempt intrastate operation of farm trucks and farm truck combinations of 26,000 pounds or less, PFB will continue to work with Pennsylvania’s Congressional Delegation to enact federal legislation to fully restore exemptions in place before the recent changes to state regulations. The changes came about as a result of a 2007 audit by federal transportation officials.

PFB specifically recognized Senate Transportation Committee Chairman John Rafferty for his sponsorship and leadership and House Transportation Committee Chairman Joseph Markosek for his full and cooperative support in achieving final passage of the legislation.

Pennsylvania Farm Bureau is the state’s largest farm organization with a volunteer membership of more than 50,000 farm and rural families, representing farms of every size and commodity across Pennsylvania.

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