Farmers and farm helpers have previously been exempted from commercial driver’s license requirements while operating commercial motor vehicles within a 150-mile radius of their home farm. Many farms own large trucks or trailers for grain and hay transport.
The new federal highway bill that became effective Oct. 1 added provisions exempting commercial motor vehicles operating as “covered farm vehicles” from that regulation, among others.
States were given up to three years to amend their safety regulations to comply with the new federal law, called MAP-21, but the Iowa Department of Transportation said it’s taking immediate actions in order to give regulatory relief to the agriculture industry.
Under the new regulations, vehicles of 26,000 pounds or less can be operated anywhere in Iowa and any other state under the exemptions. Vehicles weighing more than 26,000 pounds can be operated within 150 air miles of the driver’s farm or ranch operation, either in Iowa or across state lines.
The commercial motor vehicles must have special identification to allow law enforcement to identify the vehicle as a covered farm vehicles. Pending the release of final federal rules, Iowa farmers have two options. They can have their vehicles registered as a special farm truck and displaying either a farm plate or “F” sticker, or they can complete state form 441088 and carry it in the power unit of the covered farm vehicle.
DOT officials said commercial motor vehicles are considered covered farm vehicles when they are operated by a farm or ranch owner or operator, or an employee or a family member of the farmer, when they are used to transport agricultural commodities, livestock, machinery or supplies to or from a farm, when they are not operated for hire, and when they are not transporting hazardous materials in quantities requiring placarding.
The DOT cautioned that only two bordering states, Missouri and Minnesota, have agreed to immediately honor the covered farm vehicle exemptions for Iowa farm operators traveling in their states. Away from Iowa’s borders, Kansas, Wyoming and Colorado have also indicated they will honor the exemptions.
Wisconsin, Nebraska and South Dakota have reciprocity agreements with Iowa that remain in effect.
State regulations in Iowa will be amended after the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issues a final rule implementing the MAP-21 farm vehicle extensions in the next few months, the DOT said.