US DOT Says No To Commercial Drivers Licenses For Farmers

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(Billings, MT – YPR) – The US Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) said today it has no intention of requiring farmers and ranchers to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to drive farm equipment or haul livestock trailers on roads.

"We want to make it absolutely clear that farmers will not be subjected to new and impractical safety regulations," said U.S. Transportation Deputy Secretary John Porcari. "The farm community can be confident that states will continue to follow the regulatory exemptions for farmers that have always worked so well."

FMCSA launched a review on the enforcement of regulations on agricultural operators to ensure consistent access to exemptions for farmers and to ensure public safety.

Some farm groups, however, raised an outcry.  They said proposed rules under consideration could have required farmers and ranchers to obtain a CDL, a medical card and fill out a log book as if they were  long-haul semi drivers.

FMCSA says it received about 1700 comments by the August 1, 2011 deadline.

FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro says the vast majority of comments called for the agency to continue to allow states to grant exemptions for agriculture.

“We want to make crystal clear that we are not imposing any new regulations,” says Ferro.

That’s good news, says Montana Farm Bureau Executive Vice President Jake Cummins. We were assured that their intent was to improve safety so our goal was to demonstrate that in fact we operated in a safe environment already and that the closest agencies to that process were the states not the federal government back in Washington, DC,” Cummins said. “So we think this is a good outcome clearly our efforts to persuade them were successful and we’re happy to hear that.”