Commerce Clause Beats Farmers

Did you know that farmers and ranchers do not yet have enough regulation to make the regulators happy? Yeah, that was surprise for me, too.

Professor Jacobson (who was kind enough to make this site his “Blog of the Day” today) draws our attention to the facts:

Tractors lumbering down country roads are as common as deer in rural Montana, but the federal government wants to place new driving regulations on farmers and ranchers.

“It’s a huge deal for us,” said John Youngberg of the Montana Farm Bureau. After years of allowing state governments to waive commercial driver’s license requirements for farmers hauling crops or driving farm equipment on public roads, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is poised to do away with the exceptions.

As farmers and ranchers use more equipment to grow crops and critters on land which is often not contiguous, they spend more time on the road. Also gone are the days when a farmer hauled his grain to the closest elevator. Sometimes that makes sense and sometimes it makes sense to haul it another 80 miles to another elevator or processor. In any event, these folks have little choice but to use the roads to get around. Helicopters simply are not cost-effective.

Regulators are suggesting that all wheat shipments be considered interstate, even when farmers making short hauls to local grain elevators aren’t crossing state lines. The change would make commercial driver’s licenses — and all the log books and medical requirements that go with them — a necessity for farmers. Some might not qualify.

The licenses would also be required of farmers driving farm equipment down public roads. Farmers hauling grain for a neighbor or landlord would be considered commercial drivers hauling for someone else.

See? The economy keeps struggling along despite everything which has been thrown at it. Therefore, it is time for more regulation. If you want to completely do away with the spirit of neighborliness and general cooperation which still characterizes the farming and ranching communities–it would be hard to think of a better way than what has been proposed. This is still a proposal and not yet law–but it is likely to become law as matters would now seem to stand.

There are legitimate concerns to be addressed regarding having trucks and other farm equipment on the roads with non-farm commercial and personal vehicles. States have historically addressed these concerns to the satisfaction of most interested parties.

Centralized national rule-making is not the appropriate way to handle the issue of farm and ranch transportation of goods–unless you believe that experts who drive desks are fit to drive everything else.


4 thoughts on “Commerce Clause Beats Farmers

  1. Professor Jacobson should go back to school. Nowhere does the FMCSA propose tightening any CDL requirements for farmers. The feds are actually responding to a situation where Illinois suddenly tightened restrictions. The feds were seeking input to ifnorm clarification of rules that is just as likely to result in protecting exemptions for farmers… exemptions which ought to be open for debate. The alarm over this FMCSA public comment-seeking is bogus.

    1. Since Professor Jacobson was quoting from the article originally posted in the Billings Gazette, I think he is in the clear.

      It is difficult to believe that Thune, et al have gone so far as to contact the head of the FMCSA if there is no likelihood that the proposed changes would negatively affect the farmers/ranchers.

      From an article posted today in a trucking periodical ( we get the following: “If the proposed rulemaking is adopted, those who operate farm equipment on public roads would become subject to the requirements of the Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) rule.”

      Seems as though they would know their own business.

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