The momentum is building for changes in the Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) weight regulations to allow farmers and ranchers to haul their own commodities across state lines. U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma introduced legislation July 16 that is similar to legislation introduced in the U.S. House by Oklahoma Representatives Dan Boren and Mary Fallin.
Inhofe’s legislation requires more uniform truck weight regulations nationwide. The issue has been designated a major legislative priority by the American Farm Bureau and was first surfaced by Oklahoma Farm Bureau more than a year ago.
“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,” Mike Spradling, OFB President said. “We are extremely pleased to have Senator Inhofe as a major supporter of this critical issue.”
Under current law, crossing state lines changes the classification from intrastate carrier to interstate carrier, triggering commercial requirements.
“Farmers and ranchers are not long-haul truckers, they are simply trying to transport their goods to market,” Spradling said.
Spradling testified July 9 before the House Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, requesting Congress to look at the current law and make appropriate changes. Spradling’s testimony stated increasing the minimum weight requirement from the present 10,001 pounds to 26,001 pounds would ease the problem.
“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 used the example of a regular half-ton pickup pulling an empty, small two-axle stock trailer which would far exceed the 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.
In a press release announcing his legislation, Senator Inhofe said it is common-sense to address a problem faced by many farmers and ranchers.
“Today, due to an arbitrary federal law, many Oklahoma farmers are being ticketed when they drive their goods across state lines,” Senator Inhofe said. “Even though these farmers’ trucks are within the weight limits set by their home state and the state to which they are traveling, they are triggering a lower federal weight regulation when they cross state lines.”