Merkley Introduces Bipartisan Amendment to Help Oregon Farmers and Ranchers

Merkley Introduces Bipartisan Amendment to Help Oregon Farmers and Ranchers

Portland, OR- Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley today introduced a bipartisan amendment to the transportation bill currently on the Senate floor that would cut red tape for farmers and ranchers transporting their products. The amendment, co-sponsored by Senator’s Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Roy Blunt (R-MO), would allow farmers and ranchers who live near state borders to transport their products to the closest processing facility even if it may be in a neighboring state.

“A farmer in Ontario shouldn’t be subject to unnecessary government bureaucracy just because the closest processing facility happens to be across the border in Idaho,” said Merkley. “Agriculture is a huge part of the Oregon economy and this amendment will make it just a little easier for family farmers to stay successful.”

In current law, farmers are exempt from a set of unnecessary regulations when they transport their products in farm vehicles, but only as long as they are transporting the products within the same state.  This is problematic for farmers and ranchers who live near state borders.

 If current law is not changed, for farmers to cross state borders it means burdensome regulations like:

  • Vehicle inspections for every trip the farm vehicle takes, even if the vehicle is simply driving from the field to the barn;
  • Adhering to reporting requirements like hours of service rules, even though the farmer is driving an hour down the road to a mill;
  • Obtaining medical certifications meant for commercial truck drivers.

Senator Merkley’s amendment is narrowly tailored to only cover farm vehicles transporting products.  The exemption only applies if the following criteria are met:

  • The vehicle must be registered in the state as a farm vehicle and driven by the farm or ranch owner, an employee or family member;
  • The farm vehicle must be transporting to or from the farm agricultural commodities, livestock, or machinery and supplies;
  • The farm vehicle must be either 26,001 lbs or less or, if heavier than 26,001 lbs, be driven only within the state or a 150 air mile radius of the farm.

The American Farm Bureau, the Oregon Farm Bureau and the Oregon Wheat Growers League all endorse Senator Merkley’s amendment.

Senator Merkley is offering this legislation as an amendment to the transportation bill currently under debate in the U.S. Senate.  The bill is essential for funding critical transportation infrastructure, creating thousands of jobs in the short-term and strengthening the foundation for a strong economy in the long-term.

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