The Buzz

Road Rules retaliation.

Our article, "Road Rules," in the Feb. 2008 print edition has sparked a flurry of phone calls and e-mails about the Kansas Corporation Commission's plan to more strictly regulate the interpretation of "interstate commerce." In a nutshell, hauling grain to a local elevator or livestock to a salebarn is subject to various stages of interstate travel regulations, which can become quite onerous. The full story can be accessed by clicking "magazine online" from the menu on the left side of this screen.

  • One reader is concerned about the requirement that farmers and ranchers must obtain a medical card if involved in interstate travel. "Farmers with diabetes or a heart condition may not pass the physical," he writes and thus, would not be allowed to operate the vehicle. And as we all know, many older farmers do suffer from these ailments...
  • Another reader suggests the rules are in place to put money in the state's coffers. A U.S. Department of Transportation number, which would be required for pickups and trailers hauling "interstate," now costs $39 per vehicle. And the medical card costs close to $100 for an annual physical...
  • And thanks to all of you for acting on your beliefs. A case worker in one of the Congressional state offices tells me, "...we've received a lot of phone calls."
  • Here's the latest: a Kansas consortium of agricultural advocacy groups and commodity organizations has appealed to the state legislature to stop the KCC's enforcement of the interstate rules. The KCC, by the way, sets the law; the Kansas Highway Patrol, Kansas Motor Carriers' Association and local law agencies enforce it. The KCC, which had set up a series of field meetings to inform locals about the rules, has canceled the meetings...
  • Meanwhile, on the national level, the state of Minnesota is appealing to Congress for a new interpretation of these federal rules...
  • What we believe is this – the state of Kansas will not enforce the rules any time soon. Still, farmers and ranchers must earn this reprieve by operating vehicles in a safe manner...
  • In other news around the state, ICM, the ethanol company based in Colwich, has joined forces with Coskata, a developer of next-generation ethanol to design and construct a commercial ethanol plant using Coskata's biological fermentation technology, according to the Wichita Eagle...
  • The now aligned-companies believe that cellulosic ethanol can be converted from biomass to fuel for less than $1 per gallon. They will build a plant that should be operational by 2010, but have not disclosed a location...
  • With its recent Ag Credit Survey, the Kansas City Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank backs up a notion we've suspected: cropland values boomed in the last quarter of 2007...
  • The FRB surveyed 268 banks in the seven-state Tenth Federal Reserve District, and respondents believe cropland values surged 21% for non-irrigated and 18% for irrigated land over 2006. Those surveyed believe farmland values will rise more in 2008. A summary of the survey is available at www.KansasCityFed.org/agcrsurv/agcrmain.htm.
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