I got this from a lawyer who I will call the Tory Marine (he’ll know why and I thank him!) and he came up with the story.
Apparently the US DOT (through its Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration or FMCSA) is considering the application of the Commercial Motor Vehicle regulations to farm vehicles, even if they are not used on the public highways. This would hurt the family farm in that if farm tractors are placed under this scheme the driver has to be 18 years old and get a Commercial Drivers License.
The National Farm Union is opposed to it:
“This is a determination that may be best left to the states, of which many already have certain exemptions for agricultural transportation,” said Johnson. “Our members strongly encourage FMCSA to consider its guidance language regarding agricultural transportation to ensure that it allows farmers to continue to safely operate their farms without additional layers of regulatory oversight. Additional explanation and application of these rules should recognize the unique aspects of agricultural transportation and be reasonable and sensible for agricultural practices across the country.
Tory Marine calls the FMCSA the “Peoples’ Tractor Commissariat” (I loved it! I invited him to be a guest blogger on this issue!) and he speculates the real reason for the new interest in regulation is not safety but taxes. Apparently the farmer can purchase gasoline and diesel fuel without the Federal highway taxes on it. It is about ten cents cheaper. Surely millions if not billions of gallons are used in this manner and to paraphrase former Senator Everett Dirksen, a billion here and a billion there and soon you are talking about real money.
In fairness, the FMCSA is seeking public comment only. But I suggest we give them some public comment! An act of Congress prohibiting the regulation of farm equipment as commercial motor vehicles. Call your representative and senator right away. Tea Party groups should pass resolutions urging such a bill!
Thanks to Tory Marine for this wonderful story.
UPDATE: I felt my use of the term “Peoples’ Tractor Commissariat” might needlessly offend the rank and file employees of the agency by implying they were communist. But I still feel that this is a power grab consistent with the socialism of this administration. So i edited it slightly.