Farmer Iron

Bureaucratic Expansion Could Tag Farm Machines

In a move that smacks of ignorance about what happens in the country, one federal agency wants to add licensing rules for farm equipment.

From the file - which I tag as "I am not making this up" comes the move by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration which is considering changing current regulations related to ag equipment. The agency requested public comments on rules for off-road machines ni the context of the FMCSA regulations. And they extended the comment period until Aug. 1.

Essentially, the agency thinks that if farm equipment is driven on the road the operator should have a commercial driver's license and they also want to consider off-road farm equipment and "implements of husbandry" as commercial motor vehicles.

Sure, you can complain about what the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is up to for dust control, but this move could also have direct impact on your farm - many of which wouldn't be known.

The folks at the Association of Equipment Manufacturers filed a Letter explaining to the agency something we shouldn't have to: "While farm equipment may be incidentally operated on a public roadway and generally limited to rural roads, they are not designed with a primary purpose in mind of transporting passengers or property."

You can check out the federal notice from FMCSA to learn more about the rules. And it's important that farmers and farm groups respond. AEM has done so, and frankly farmers need to as well. In addition, this is a "call your Congressman" kind of moment - federal agencies can make business-busting and burdensome rules without relying on elected officials for support. The public comment period is your chance to weigh in, but you may need to get Congress involved too.

I don't usually use this column to motivate readers - my role is mainly to inform. But this time, a letter to this agency into the record would pay off. AEM has done its part and I know other major farm groups are on the ball here too. Yet you as a farmer have a lot of power for an agency and the rules for filing a public comment are included at that federal notice link above. And do yourself a favor. If you do write a letter commenting on this issue, send a copy of your comment to your Congressman or Congresswoman, and to your Senators.

Adding licensing rules, which could also require inspections, added required equipment and more - all things that will increase your cost of doing business without adding any return. So fire up your computer or typewriter (however you write letters) and share your thoughts on this very hot topic. You have until Aug. 1.

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