It’s Harvest Season, Time for a Farm Vehicle Refresher!

Andrew 2

Andrew Smith Associate Director, Governmental Relations

It’s harvest season and many of you will be on the road in your farm trucks, whether between your fields and farm or to the market. I thought it an appropriate time to remind folks of some of the basics concerning farm vehicle laws.

Most in Virginia operate farm trucks as a registered farm vehicle (F-tag from DMV) or use the exemption from registration and run as a “Farm Use” vehicle.

Those operating “Farm Use” for the proper activities can travel up to 75 miles. The current law also requires operators to be prepared to supply the location of their farm or farms to law enforcement officials. Any officer may request the address of the lands used by a vehicle’s owner for agricultural purposes or, if the address is not known, the real property parcel identification number of the land.

State law limits the use of “farm use” tags to pickup trucks, panel trucks, trailers, semitrailers, sport utility vehicles, and vehicles having a gross weight rating of more than 7,500 pounds. Note cars are not an appropriate vehicle to use this exemption. Drivers who violate Virginia’s policies and guidelines for “farm use” tags on unlicensed vehicles face a fine of up to $250 for a first offense; the fine is a strict $250 for second and subsequent offenses. “Farm Use” is only allowed in Virginia, you cannot go across state lines with the unregistered vehicles.

In general, you can use the “Farm Use” vehicle for most farming activities, during planting, harvesting, picking up supplies, etc. The detailed information on these uses can be found in a handout on the Farm Bureau’s resource page or click here for the handout: Farm Use

Registered Farm Vehicles bear what is commonly referred to as an F-tag obtained from the Department of Motor Vehicles. These vehicles have more flexibility but still must be used in conjunction with the farm operation with few exceptions. You may use them:

When owned by a person who is engaged either as an owner, renter, or operator of a farm of a size reasonably requiring the use of such vehicle or vehicles and when such vehicle is:

  1. Used in the transportation of agricultural products of the farm he is working to market, or to other points for sale or processing, or when used to transport materials, tools, equipment, or supplies which are to be used or consumed on the farm he is working, or when used for any other transportation incidental to the regular operation of such farm;
  2. Used in transporting forest products, including forest materials originating on a farm or incident to the regular operation of a farm, to the farm he is working or transporting for any purpose forest products which originate on the farm he is working; or
  3. Used in the transportation of farm produce, supplies, equipment, or materials to a farm not worked by him, pursuant to a mutual cooperative agreement.

There is also a handout on Farm Bureau’s website or clicking here for the handout: Registered Farm Vehicle (F-tag)

In addition to the uses available for an F-tag farm vehicle, registering as a Farm Vehicle with DMV for an F-tag also has an advantage of additional weight allowances. Those vehicles bearing the plate have perks of taking advantage of operating as if they purchased a 5% overweight sticker without buying it. However, keep in mind if caught overweight you lose that privilege. I call it a get out of jail free card.

Additionally, during harvest season you can have an additional 5% allowance, not to except 84,000 lbs. Please remember your vehicle must be constructed to carry the extra weight, so check your vehicles sticker and see what the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating is (GVWR). Note these weight allowances are only allowed on the F-tag, it’s part of the perks when registering your vehicle. Farm Use and other farm vehicles such as the F-tag can also purchase an overweight permit to carry up to 90,000 lbs. They ultimate weight would depend on axle configuration. You can learn more about this permit on DMV’s website, just click here: Virginia-grown Farm Products Permit

Virginia Farm Bureau has prepared several handouts on farm vehicle laws including State and Federal trucking laws. Check out those under Transportation on the resource page at: Virginia Farm Bureau Legislative Resources

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