Road Rules Redo

State backs off interstate shipping rules.

The State of Kansas has stopped its plan to implement newly interpreted federal interstate motor vehicle guidelines on farmers and ranchers hauling goods locally.

Under the rules – which were highlighted in detail in the print version of Kansas Farmer this month – farmers and ranchers hauling livestock or grain to sale barns or grain elevators would be considered interstate haulers, as the movement makes up the first leg of interstate travel.

Last week, however, the Kansas Corporation Commission released a new interpretation of the commodity shipments rules, which state that within Kansas borders, commodity shipments will not be considered interstate – unless there is clear evidence the shipper intends for the commodity to leave the state.

The KCC, which implements the state's motor carrier rules and regulations, had planned to begin enforcement of new rules in 2009. These rules would have required drivers of vehicles meeting the KCC's definition of interstate commerce to follow rules and regulations that all commercial drivers must follow when hauling products interstate. At the very least, vehicles would have required an annual inspection and U.S. Department of Transportation numbers. Drivers would need a medical card and possibly a commercial drivers' license, depending on the size of vehicle and distance hauled.

The rules had caused some confusion in farm country, with many agricultural advocacy and commodity groups joining forces and asking the Kansas legislature to clarify the rule. The KCC had planned to hold several educational meetings throughout the state to explain the rules; these were canceled three weeks ago. After the meeting cancellation, KCC met with First District Congressmen Jerry Moran, state legislators, commodity and advocacy groups and others before deciding to change its stance on interstate commerce.

A docket released by the KCC last week summarizes its decision: "…if there is no clear evidence that the farmer-shipper's intent as respects the movememt of the items in commerce is one of interstate transport, that intent shall not be inferred. If the operation is solely within the state of Kansas and the commerce engaged in is solely within the state of Kansas, the shipment is considered intrastate commerce."

Although the KCC ruling relieves farmers and ranchers of the interstate rules for local hauling, farmers hauling goods across the state line must meet interstate commerce guidelines.

Also, the KCC's decision does not change rules for anhydrous ammonia or diesel fuel shipment. Under KCC guidelines, anhydrous ammonia tanks are considered hazardous material and require safety steps when pulled by a truck. Diesel fuel in tanks greater than 119 gallons must be placarded and meet other safety steps, the KCC says.

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