Cooperatives Relieved About Federal Licensing Decision

Cooperatives Relieved About Federal Licensing Decision

It's up to states to decide whether farmers need commercial drivers' licenses.

Last week, following extensive comment, the Federal Motor Carrier Administration decided not to require certain farmers renting land to obtain a Commercial Drivers License to engage in farming practices on that land.

The federal agency's decision leaves it up to the states to determine who is a farmer in that situation, and as a result, whether or not they need a CDL to transport their commodities and other agricultural goods.

The decision follows extensive contacts by Cooperative Network and its members to the FMCSA and members of Congress.

"To remain competitive, farmers have evolved their operations into more sophisticated enterprises. However, at the end of the day, it's the same person cultivating the land and they should not be penalized for that by having to comply with extensive new federal regulations," said Bill Oemichen, president and CEO of Cooperative Network.

The FMCSA also decided that no further guidance was needed to clarify the difference between inter-intrastate movements of agricultural commodities such as grain, and also left in place its regulations related to the definition of implements of husbandry.

"Minnesota cooperatives and farmers alike were very concerned that the federal agency could have chosen to go down a path of greater federal regulation of agricultural activities. We generally believe issues impacting agriculture are best left to the states to decide based on the unique farming practices in each state," Oemichen said

"We are disappointed the FMCSA chose not to modify its definition of an implement of husbandry to make it more uniform with our state definition, but it was clear that a more synonymous definition was a challenge given the diversity of agriculture across the country.  In the end, the status quo is the right thing," said Oemichen. 

Cooperative Network is a Minnesota business association. It serves more than 600 member-cooperatives, owned by more than 6.3 million Minnesota and Wisconsin residents, by providing government relations, education, marketing, and technical services for a wide variety of cooperatives including farm supply, health, dairy marketing, consumer, financial, livestock marketing, telecommunications, electric, housing, insurance, worker-owned cooperatives, and more.

For more information about Cooperative Network, visit www.cooperativenetwork.coop.

Source: Cooperative Network

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