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June 23, 2011

Transportation Dept. Asks Farmers for Help

For more information on Newsline, contact: Kari Barbic, Media Specialist, American Farm Bureau Federation, karib@fb.org.

New proposals from the Department of Transportation would have a big impact on the use of farm equipment. AFBF’s Johnna Miller reports on what Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrator Anne Ferro has to say on the topic.
Miller:Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrator Anne Ferro told participants of an American Farm Bureau public policy conference that talking with several state Farm Bureaus helped her realize that her agency needs more information about how their regulations affect farmers and ranchers. 
Ferro:One thing that’s been very clear to me is we are not uniform as an agency, together with our state partners, in how we enforce the guidance we issue when it comes to the movement of agricultural equipment or agricultural products. 
Miller:So the agency is asking for farmers and ranchers to weigh in on three aspects of farm and ranch-related transportation: a commercial motor vehicle designation for agricultural vehicles and equipment; interstate vs. intrastate definitions that apply to hauling farm products within a single state; and a for-hire designation for farmers with a crop-share lease. 
Ferro:Give us information so that we can better understand what our current interpretations how they do affect the movement of your members’ products, r their livelihoods, their work and how are they being applied and do you have recommendations on how we can do it otherwise. 
Miller:If current proposals are adopted farm machinery owners and operators have lots of new requirements, such as getting commercial drivers licenses, limiting mileage, obtaining a medical card for the driver and maintaining hours of service records.
Ferro:You’re not only feeding our nation but clearly you’re feeding the world in many ways and in many markets. That’s something that the agency does not want to impact, the seamlessness, the efficiency, the livelihood, the productivity of. At the end of the day, my mandate is safety in commercial vehicle transportation, so it’s very important that we communicate and have a conversation and have an ongoing relationship so that when we make decisions that do impact it, we understand and we can talk about them before those decisions go into place. 
Miller:Farm Bureau says that states, which are more attuned with their unique needs, are better suited to make these transportation rules. Johnna Miller, Washington.
Miller:We have two extra actualities with Administrator Anne Ferro of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. In the first extra actuality she talks about the agency's safety mandate. The cut runs 17 seconds, in 3-2-1.
Ferro:It’s absolutely vitally important to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, to the Department of Transportation, Secretary Ray LaHood, to the President of the United States that our agency, along with all others, are appropriately working, both fulfilling our mandate, but working with those who really are America’s future. 
Miller:In the second extra actuality Ferro talks about the importance of farmers and ranchers filing comments on new DOT proposals that affect farm equipment. The cut runs 22 seconds, in 3-2-1.
Ferro:It’s very important that we understand the perspective of the agricultural community and help us refine it. That’s the purpose of this request for input on these three questions we’ve raised. Our intent is, let’s just put it out there and let us hear what your interpretation and explanation and analysis behind those interpretations are to help guide us so that we can meet our safety mandate, which is important to all of you as well. 
Miller:Newsline is updated Mondays and Thursdays by 5pm eastern time. Thank you for listening.

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