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Merkley Amendment Huge Win for Farmers and Ranchers

March 13, 2012

Washington, DC – Today, the United States Senate passed by voice vote a bipartisan amendment sponsored by Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley that would make it easier for farmers and ranchers to transport their products to market if they operate near state lines. The amendment was cosponsored by Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Pat Toomey (R-PA). 

“This is a huge win for Oregon’s farmers and ranchers,” Merkley said. “Farmers and ranchers don’t become commercial truckers just because they happen to live near a state line. I am pleased that we were able to cut red tape and put this arbitrary distinction to an end.” 

"We are grateful that Senator Merkley has taken the lead in crafting legislation so critical for Oregon agriculture.  He has created a common sense solution for Oregon's farmers and ranchers which not only benefits the industry, but ultimately the consumer as well," said Barry Bushue, Oregon Farm Bureau. 

“Maintaining the historical exemption for farm vehicles from the requirements for commercial truckers is very important to Oregon wheat growers and we appreciate Senator Merkley’s efforts to develop and pass this legislation,” said Blake Rowe, Oregon Wheat Growers League. 

Currently, farmers are exempt from certain regulations when they transport their products in farm vehicles, as long as they are transporting the products within the same state. However, this is problematic for farmers and ranchers who live near state borders and whose best market or nearest processing facility might be just across the state line. 

Senator Merkley’s amendment will allow farms to transport products to the nearest processing facility without these burdensome requirements, even if it’s in the next state.

 In order to qualify:

  • 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 (for-hire drivers do not qualify)
  • 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, allowing the farmer to cross state lines to reach a market without facing additional regulation

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

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