US DOT: no CDL requirements on the horizon for agricultural sector
“No regulations will be proposed for any new safety requirements or changes to the rules governing the transport of ag products, farm machinery or farm supplies to or from a farm.”
That’s the statement from the U.S. Department of Transportation about whether or not the agency would move forward on requirements for commercial drivers licenses (CDLs) for those operating equipment in the ag industry.
In a recent interview aired on AgriTalk, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Transportation John Porcari said, “Those concerns can be put to rest right now. We are not proposing any CDL requirements, and we are very mindful of the fact that the ag economy is one of the cornerstones of our national economy, and one of the ways we’ll grow our exports in the years to come.”
In response to a question as to why his agency held sessions to take public comment, if no rule was ever intended, Porcari said those sessions weren’t related to rulemaking.
“That was a listening tour, because the rumor came up that we were considering CDLs. We need to hear what farmers’ needs are today and tomorrow – technology is changing so quickly that we need to make sure we understand the future, and we got a lot of great comments to use throughout the transportation system,” he said.
Porcari continued, saying the rumor to which he referred started with a Midwestern state’s misinterpretation of requirements for CDLs in crop-sharing arrangements.
“We have clarified that, and are working closely with state partners to make sure we’re keeping the system safe, and that the transportation system is an asset to our ag community,” he commented.
On whether or not the agency will still consider a similar requirement in the future, Porcari said, “The door is shut. We have no plans to do anything like that.”
To the contrary, he said his agency has been trying to help the ag community any way they can. As an example of that effort, he gave the $3 billion in retaliatory tariffs imposed on U.S. agricultural products by Mexico as part of the cross-border trucking dispute.
“Our Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has worked hard to get those tariffs lifted through the cross-border agreement with Mexico, and I’m pleased to say the first $1.5 billion in tariffs on everything from potatoes to apples, vegetables and Christmas trees has been lifted, and the other 50 percent will be lifted this fall,” he explained, adding, “We’ve been working hard to give our agricultural community a fair shake in the world markets.”
“We want to make sure our transportation system in general is serving the ag community,” said Porcari. “This nation was built on the strength of our ag sector, and transportation infrastructure is the backbone, whether it’s roads, canals, bridges, freight rails or inland waterways.”
He added, “We’re focused on making sure we’re making the generational investments in infrastructure that our parents and grandparents made that allowed us to prosper. We need to do the same for the next generation. We need to rebuild our infrastructure, and we feel that’s the best way we can allow the agricultural sector to continue to prosper and export, because it is one of the bright spots in our economy.”
Christy Martinez is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.