Agricultural producers should be allowed to transport their commodities to market across state lines without being subject to Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) weight regulations for long-haul truckers. That’s what Oklahoma Farm Bureau President Mike Spradling told a congressional subcommittee July 9 in Washington, D.C.
Testifying before the House Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, Spradling said the nature of farming and ranching has changed and producers need the ability to transport goods long distance.
“Concentration within the agriculture industry has reduced the number of grain elevators, cotton gins and livestock markets forcing producers to drive longer distances, often across state lines, to sell their commodities,” Spradling said.
Under current law, crossing state lines changes the classification from intrastate carrier to interstate carrier, triggering commercial requirements.
Spradling, testifying on behalf of the American Farm Bureau, believes increasing the minimum weight requirement from the current 10,001 pounds to 26,001 pounds would ease the problem. During the annual American Farm Bureau convention in January delegates made uniform federal truck weights a priority issue.
“While 10,001 pounds sounds like it would apply to a large commercial vehicle, the truth is it takes very little to reach that threshold,” Spradling said. He listed the example of a half-ton pickup with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 6,800 pounds. Hitch that pickup to an empty two-axle stock trailer with a GVWR of 4,100 pounds and the combined GVWR exceeds 10,001 pounds.
“This lower weight limit causes the greatest hardship for the livestock producer who takes only a small number of animals to market,” Spradling said.
"Currently 32 states, including Oklahoma, define CMV as weighing 26,001 pounds or more for intrastate travel,” Spradling said. “If a farmer or rancher hauls his own commodities across a state line he automatically becomes subject to requirements aimed at commercial long-haul drivers engaged in interstate travel. It makes no sense that crossing a state line suddenly makes the vehicle unsafe.”
Spradling’s testimony sets the stage for farm leaders to work with Congress in passing a new transportation bill in 2009.
The Sand Springs pecan producer and rancher said Farm Bureau has been working with U.S. Representatives Dan Boren and Mary Fallin on remedying the situation for more than year. Last July the Oklahoma lawmakers authored HR 3098, which has gained bi-partisan support and now has 34 co-sponsors. Rep. Fallin is a member of the House Transportation subcommittee. Both Representatives have long supported uniform truck weight regulations.