U.S. Department of Transportation officials are disputing Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s statement at the Iowa State Fair today that federal administrators plan to require a farmer driving a tractor across a public road to obtain a commercial driver’s license.
“We are absolutely not requiring farmers” to obtain commercial licenses, such as those required of semi-trailer operators, said U.S. DOT spokeswoman Candice Tolliver in Washington, D.C.
She said U.S. DOT Secretary Ray LaHood had put out a statement last week making the DOT’s position clear.
“We have no intention of instituting onerous regulations on the hardworking farmers who feed our country and fuel our economy,” LaHood’s statement said.
Perry, who on Saturday announced he is seeking the Republican presidential nomination, contended in Des Moines today that federal regulations are stifling creation of American jobs.
He then proceeded to cite what he termed an “obscene, crazy” regulation. “If you are a tractor driver, if you drive your tractor across a public road, you’re going to have to have a commercial driver’s license. Now how idiotic is that?”
Perry said he had talked on Sunday night with U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa at a GOP dinner in Waterloo. Perry told Grassley he had heard in the previous two days that the federal government was going to put such a regulation in place.
“Your own United States senator, sitting there at the table, said, ‘That’s right.’ And I said, ‘What were they thinking, senator?’ And he said, ‘They weren’t.’ So that is the issue at hand here,” Perry said.
Federal officials today said it’s a non-issue.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration gave this account in a statement last week: The agency had heard from farmers concerned about what the rules were concerning commercial licenses. So the agency said it initiated a review to make sure states don’t go overboard in enforcing regulations on agricultural operators. The agency then sought public comment on several related issues, including the question of “whether off-road farm equipment or implements of husbandry operated on public roads for limited distances are considered commercial motor vehicles.”
Some farm groups interpreted the request for public comment as a signal that the U.S. Department of Transportation was about to impose new regulations on farmers.
For example, the National Sorghum Producers posted a blog item on Aug. 4, asking, “A CDL to drive a tractor? Another burdensome regulation looms over ag.” Grassley joined nearly two-dozen other senators in writing two separate letters to federal officials on the issue.
DOT Secretary LaHood, a former Republican congressman from Illinois, said in his statement last week that his agency was reinforcing its commitment to no new regulations for America’s agricultural community.
Ann Ferro, administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, also said in the statement, “We want to make crystal clear that we are not imposing any new regulations.”
Grassley’s aides, asked today about Perry’s comments, referred to an electronic newsletter Grassley issued on Friday. The senator wrote that common sense had appeared to prevail in the matter of proposed agricultural transportation regulations. But he complained that “the last few months have shown a clear disconnect between Washington bureaucrats at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration … and rural America.”
Dave Lorenzen, director of the Iowa Department of Transportation’s Office of Motor Vehicle Enforcement, said today that many Iowa farmers already have either a commercial driver’s license or what is called a D1 chauffeur’s license to operate semi-trailers to haul grain. State officials have no plans to require farmers to obtain a commercial driver’s license to operate farm tractors on public roads, he said.
“We work real closely with the Farm Bureau and the ag folks, and we try to inform them if there are going to be any big changes. We make our best effort to educate them and get their input,” Lorenzen said.
Texas needs to keep "this lying turd - nut case" - Rick Perry... Monte