Wyoming Highway Patrol clarifies MAP-21 exemptions for ag operators
Worland – Oftentimes, harvest season and other yearly work brings a wide array of challenges for ag producers related to regulations for vehicles on public roads. The Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) defines a series of exemptions for covered farm vehicle drivers that producers should be aware of.
“MAP-21 is a federal rule,” said Wyoming Highway Patrol Trooper Richard Scoval. “Wyoming farmers and ranchers have also had some exemptions to rules in the past years.”
Scoval detailed the MAP-21 rules and exemptions during the 2015 WESTI Ag Days, held Feb. 3-4 in Worland.
MAP-21 applies to covered farm vehicles.
“The main thing we want to get across is that we are talking about vehicles that are operated by a farm owner or operator, ranch owner or operator, or an employee or family member,” Scoval said.
Additionally, covered vehicles must be transporting agricultural commodities, livestock, machinery or supplies to or from a farm or ranch, and they must not be use for-hire.
Vehicles must be equipped with a special license plate or other designation in the state where the vehicle is registered.
“When producers get a farm or ranch sticker, there is a place on the registration that notes either AG or FV,” explained Scoval.
In Wyoming, two different stickers are offered for farm vehicles – a 25 and a FARM sticker.
The “25” sticker allows farm vehicle owners to pay only twenty-five percent of the registration fee for the vehicle, since it is only likely used part of the year for farm work.
“These stickers have been around for years,” he added.
The designation becomes important for those folks who travel outside of state lines.
“When people travel outside of the state within 150 air miles of their place, the designation is important so officers in other states don’t designate them as a commercial vehicle,” Scoval said.
“Each state has their own designations for farm vehicles,” Scoval said. “If a producer has the special license plate or designation, they are exempt from some rules.”
MAP-21 also permits for exemptions from commercial drivers license (CDL) requirements.
“This is probably one of the most confusing parts of MAP-21,” he continued. “The federal government has left it up to states to determine what they do for farm and ranch vehicles. They have the authority if they want to exempt farmers and ranchers from any class of license.”
In Wyoming, drivers must have the proper class of license for the type of vehicle, but a CDL is not required.
Class B licenses are required for a single vehicle with a weight of over 26,001 pounds. Any combination vehicle requires a Class A driver’s license.
Farm vehicle or ag designations mean that drivers are exempt from section 382 drug and alcohol testing programs.
“Commercial vehicle drivers are required to have random testing for drugs and alcohol,” Scoval explained. “MAP-21 exempts ag producers from those testing requirements.”
Those folks who qualify under the MAP-21 program also no longer have to be medically qualified.
Scoval cautioned producers to understand that if they travel out-of-state more than 150 air miles from their home, they are still required to comply with all CDL requirements.
MAP-21 also provides exemptions from maintenance and repair regulations. However, proper working equipment is still required. Drivers must also comply with all size and weight rules, as well, regardless of whether or not they are MAP-21 qualified.
“The MAP-21 rules are specific to federal exemptions,” said Scoval. “We still have state exemptions, as well.”
All MAP-21 exemptions apply within state boundaries and within 150 air miles of the home-place across state boundaries.
He added, “The old state rules said people could go 150 air miles, but now we can go anywhere in the state.”
“If a producer chooses not to get a special license plate, drivers aren’t considered a commercial vehicle unless they are over 55,000 pounds,” he continues.
Scoval further commented, “Producers can claim both exemptions at the same time. We use whichever rules fit the producers best.”
Scoval also mentioned that, despite the exemptions for vehicles, it is important to remember to properly mark vehicles.
Safety equipment is required to mark implements, and requirements depend on the width, height and speed of the vehicle.
“If the vehicle travels under 25 miles per hour, they must have a slow-moving vehicle emblem,” he said.
He also noted that oversize loads may require signage, lights, flag or even potentially an escort. Scoval encouraged producers to make sure they are compliant with regulations.
“These rules all come from the Gold Book,” said Scoval. “These rules and regulations are also available at the Wyoming Department of Transportation website or by calling the Wyoming Department of Transportation.”
Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.