The American Farm Bureau Federation, along with agri-business groups from Michigan and across the country are asking congress to help farmers by being making the Farm-Related Restricted Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) program more flexible.
They’re are asking lawmakers to modernize the Seasonal Ag CDL program by:
The continued push from the coalition comes as the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation approved the Surface Transportation Investment Act.
- Expanding the total days allowed to utilize Farm-Related Restricted CDL drivers from 180 days to 270 days to account for extended seasons which can fluctuate from year to year.
- Allowing the new 12-month seasons restart each calendar year on Jan. 1 to prevent overlap of seasons from the previous year.
- Ensuring Farm-Related Restricted CDL drivers can also operate Class A commercial vehicles.
- Eliminating the requirement for in-person seasonal renewal of the Farm-Related Restricted CDLs
“Seasonal CDLs are critical to maintaining a strong and resilient supply chain that delivers Michigan’s agricultural goods to families and businesses during peak times in the harvest and growing season,” said MFB National Legislative Counsel John Kran.
“Congress can help make agricultural transportation more efficient and effective in the next Surface Transportation Bill by enacting commonsense changes to make the Seasonal Ag CDL program more flexible.”
The bill approved by the committee includes language that would allow Farm-Related Restricted CDLs to restart at the beginning of each calendar year, ensuring days from the previous season are not carried over.
Along with Ag CDL reform, a letter from more than 50 national and state organizations including the AFBF, Michigan Agri-Business Association (MABA) and Michigan Soybean Association also urges lawmakers to:
- Make exemptions for hours-of-service rules by including the HAULS Act.
- Authorize an opt-in pilot program to modestly increase gross vehicle weight limits by allowing 91,000-lb., six-axle vehicles on federal Interstate Highways in ten states.
- Establish a tolerance to account for load shifts that can result in tickets for drivers, even when their truck is under the federal weight limit.
- Maintain the existing minimum financial liability coverage levels for trucks.