In an effort to ensure Missouri farmers have timely access to the supplies they need to be successful, U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (MO-9) and U.S. Rep. Sam Graves (MO-6) today led efforts to successfully secure in the recently-passed federal highway bill clarifying a provision that will exempt truck drivers transporting certain agricultural products or exempt from hours of service rules put in place by the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
"I am pleased that this provision was included in the highway bill. Seeing that much of my district is rural, the timely delivery of farm supplies is critical to the success of not only my district, but all of rural America," Luetkemeyer said. "Congressman Graves and Congressman Larry Bucshon of Indiana played key roles in the passage of this language to reaffirm that a driver transporting farm supplies is included in the agricultural hours of service exemption."
The proposal, which is nearly identical to legislation introduced by both congressmen last year, reinforces existing law by clarifying that a driver transporting farm supplies from source to retail, source to farm and retail to farm is included under the existing Agriculture Hours-of-Service (AgHOS) exemption. The measure affirms the AgHOS exemption for a motor carrier in the distribution system provided that the motor carrier is delivering farm supplies for agricultural purposes where none of the transportation movements exceed a 150 air-mile radius.
"The last thing a farmer needs is overbearing federal regulations when trying to plant and harvest a crop," Graves said. "This bill will ensure that Missouri farmers have access to the farm supplies they need, whenever they need them. I believe this bill balances the need for quick delivery while making sure safety remains a priority."
In the past, many members of Congress have expressed repeated concern regarding FMCSA's interpretation of the AgHOS exemption, which currently allows for the transportation of only anhydrous ammonia from a distribution source to retail outlet, from a source to a farm and from a retail outlet to a farm. Luetkemeyer and Graves believe that federal statute and congressional intent allow for the transportation of all necessary agriculture products under the AgHOS exemption.
The passage of the provision was praised by the Missouri Farm Bureau, which serves as a voice for agricultural producers throughout the Show-Me State.
"Congressman Luetkemeyer and Graves have worked to maintain the common sense Agricultural Hours of Service exemptions important to farmers and those who deliver fertilizer and supplies to local agribusinesses and farms," said Missouri Farm Bureau President Blake Hurst. "The clarification included in the highway bill will provide more certainty for agriculture, and we credit our representatives for their leadership and persistence."
The overall highway bill funds transportation and infrastructure programs through FY 2014. Under the bill, every state will receive the same funding they received in FY12 and in year two of the bill, each state will receive a 1 to 2 percent funding increase.
Also included in the legislation was a provision that extends the 3.4 percent interest rate for federally-subsidized student loans for another year. Federally subsidized student loans had been scheduled to increase from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent on July 1st. The bill also reauthorizes the National Flood Insurance Program for five years, ending September 30, 2017.