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Making sense of truck regulations

4/30/2014

Once again, farmers and ranchers are scratching their heads about how the new commercial driver's license regulations will affect them when they transport livestock and crops to market.

Once again, farmers and ranchers are scratching their heads about how the new commercial driver's license regulations will affect them when they transport livestock and crops to market.

Kansas transportation regulations already impose an extensive array of documentation, testing, certification, inspection and record keeping on the trucking industry. These regulations further are complicated when farmers and stockmen operate their vehicles across state lines where other states might have different rules than Kansas.

Agricultural producers received help in July 2012 with the announcement of expanded exemptions from federal and state rules, said Mike Irvin, legislative counsel for Kansas Farm Bureau.

"Farmers and ranchers may be exempt from the requirements of commercial driver's license drug testing, physical examination or hours of service regulations if their farm vehicles meet certain criteria," Irvin said.

First, the vehicles must be operated by a farm or ranch owner, an employee or family member of the farmer.

Secondly, the vehicles must be used to transport agricultural products, machinery or supplies from a farm.

Third, farm or ranch vehicles cannot be operated for hire (hauling for others for compensation).

Fourth, vehicles of 26,000 pounds or less can be operated anywhere in the United States.

Finally, farm or ranch vehicles, between 26,000 to 80,000 pounds can operate in Kansas and also can operate across state lines within 150 air miles of the farm or ranch.

All CDL holders must apply for medical self-certification with the Department of Revenues Driver's License Agency when they receive, renew, upgrade or transfer their CDL no later than Jan. 30 of each year, Irvin said.

Unfortunately, the manner, time, implications and consequences of these proposals have made it difficult for farmers and ranchers to fully understand and participate.

"We believe extension of the certification process will help alleviate some of the fears farmers and ranchers are having over these requirements," Irvin said.

John Schlageck is a leading commentator on agriculture and rural Kansas. Born and raised on a diversified farm in northwest Kansas, his writing reflects a lifetime of experience, knowledge and passion.

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