Merkley Joins Bipartisan Effort to Assist Farmers

Washington, DC- Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley joined Senators Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) to introduce bipartisan legislation that will help reduce unnecessary regulations for farmers and ranchers in Oregon and across the nation. Specifically, the legislation would provide exemptions so that interstate trucking regulations would not apply to farmers when they transport their own goods to market.

“We shouldn’t be making it harder for farmers to get their goods to market,” Senator Merkley said.  “We should be supporting farmers instead of threatening fines.  This bill proposes a common sense solution that will allow farmers to move crops to market without triggering rules and regulations aimed at heavy trucks engaging in interstate freight commerce.”

“Today, due to an arbitrary federal law, many Oklahoma farmers are being ticketed when they drive their goods across state lines,” Senator Inhofe said.  “Even though these farmers’ trucks are within the weight limits set by their home states and the states to which they are traveling, they are triggering an arbitrary federal weight regulation when they cross state lines in their farm vehicles.  As a result, they are being ticketed and generally inconvenienced. I am pleased to be working closely with Senator Merkley on this common-sense, bi-partisan solution.”

Right now, farmers transporting their own goods to a grain elevator could be subject to regulations designed for long-distance freight trucks if they cross a state border or if the goods they are carrying are bound for interstate commerce. Trucking regulations can include being required to hold a commercial driver’s license, being subject to drug searches, documenting hours driven, and other measures. Oregon state law exempted farmers driving farm trucks from these rules, but the Bush Administration threatened to withhold funding unless the state repealed the exemption. The bill crafted by Senator Inhofe and Senator Merkley would create a federal exemption for farmers driving farm trucks.