New Farm Vehicle Exemptions take effect Oct. 1

On July 6, President Obama signed into law H.R. 4348, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21). Included in the law were several exemptions relating to farm vehicles for farmers and ranchers.

The following regulations and exemptions take effect Oct. 1:

A covered farm vehicle, including the individual operating that vehicle, shall be exempt from the following federal requirements:

• Any requirement related to commercial driver’s licenses;

• Any requirement related to drug testing;

• Any requirement related to medical certificates;

• Any requirement related to hours of service; and

• Any requirement related to vehicle inspection, repair and maintenance.

In addition, federal transportation funding to a state may not be terminated, limited or otherwise interfered with as a result of the state exempting a covered farm vehicle, including the individual operating that vehicle, from any state requirement relating to the operation of that vehicle.

Exemptions do not apply to a covered farm vehicle transporting hazardous materials that require a placard.

A “covered farm vehicle” means a motor vehicle (including an articulated motor vehicle) that is traveling in the state in which it is registered or another state and is operated by:

• A farm owner or operator;

• A ranch owner or operator; or

• And employee or family member of an individual farmer or rancher.

The covered farm vehicle must be equipped with a special license plate or other designation by the state in which the vehicle is registered to allow for identification of the vehicle as a farm vehicle by law enforcement personnel.

The farm vehicle and the individual operating that vehicle are exempt from the above-mentioned requirements if the vehicle is less than 26,001 pounds. If the vehicle is greater than 26,001 pounds, the exemptions apply within the state or within 150 air miles of the farm or ranch.

It should be noted that this legislation does not specifically exempt a farmer or rancher from any state requirements. There are no longer federal requirements relating to the above-mentioned regulations. Additionally, funding from the federal government to a state cannot be withheld if a state chooses to allow exemptions for agriculture.

Included with the farm vehicle exemptions language was a directive to the secretary of transportation to conduct a safety study of the exemptions. Farm Bureau plans to work closely with the Department of Transportation as it conducts the study.

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