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Ohio Farmers, Others React to Fed Proposal on Farm Driving

Ohio farmers and their counterparts throughout the rest of the country don’t think that their kids’ occasional operation of trucks, tractors and other agricultural equipment is even a negligible contributor to truck accidents on highways and rural roads. Given that viewpoint, their attitude toward a federal proposal suggesting that farmers driving while engaged in agricultural activities should be regulated similarly to commercial truck drivers is predictable.

They think it’s stupid.

“I’d understand if there are safety concerns, but you don’t hear that,” says Bill Myers, a farmer who lives near Toledo. Myers notes that his son has been operating mobile farm equipment since he was 14.

Farmers throughout the country uniformly scoff at the suggestion, noting that, while the idea might make sense in crowded urban areas, it’s frankly puzzling when applied to the more rural areas where most farmers work and live.

The U.S. Department of Transportation actually did ask for input on the idea earlier this spring, with officials mentioning that the government might require commercial driver’s licenses for all drivers engaged in farm work, and additionally require them to carry medical records and fill out log books. Farmers responded that the time and costs (an Ohio road test and commercial driver’s license costs $92) needed to comply with the demands would have been insuperable, as well as disruptive of traditional farming processes.

The agency has since backed off from the suggestion, with Deputy Secretary John Porcari saying that, “The farm community can be confident that states will continue to follow the regulatory exemptions for farmers that have always worked so well.”

Related Resource: Associated Press, “Feds back off commercial licenses for farmers idea” Aug. 17, 2011