FIRST FEDERAL MOTOR CARRIER MEETINGS TONIGHT
FAIRVIEW, Ala. -- The first in a series of educational meetings geared to address farmers' concerns over the new Federal Motor Carrier regulations takes place at 5:30 p.m. today at Fairview High School Auditorium in Cullman County.
The meetings are sponsored by the Alabama Farmers Federation, the Alabama Cattlemen's Association, Alabama Poultry & Egg Association and the Department of Agriculture & Industries in cooperation with the Department of Public Safety, the Department of Revenue and the Department of Transportation.
Other meetings on the schedule are:
July 22 -- Baldwin County Farmers Federation, Robertsdale.
Aug. 9 -- 36th Annual Commodity Producers Conference, Cahaba Grand Conference Center, Birmingham.
Aug. 11 -- Perry Recreation Center, Ozark.
Aug. 12 -- Alfa Home Office Auditorium, Montgomery.
All meetings are set for 5:30 p.m., except for the commodity conference meeting. That meeting is set for 3:15 p.m.
Alabama Farmers Federation arranged for the meetings with the DPS as part of an agreement with the department following the legislature's passage of a bill in May revising exemptions for the state's agricultural sector. Gov. Bob Riley signed the bill into law May 13.
SB 482, sponsored by Sen. Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro, exempts all agricultural vehicles operating within 150 air miles of the farmer's headquarters with the following exceptions: Drivers operating more than one combination vehicle (truck and trailer) exceeding 26,001 pounds are required to be at least 18 years of age and have a medical card; and vehicle maintenance and inspection records must be maintained on combination vehicles of more than 26,001 pounds. Commercial driver's license and Department of Transportation registration and door markings aren't required for farmer-owned vehicles.
In addition, hours-of-service rules for drivers will not be applied to drivers transporting agricultural or farm supplies at any time during the year.
The Alabama Farmers Federation originally opposed the bill but agreed to withdraw opposition after receiving confirmation from DPS that most of the exemptions fought for last year would be preserved.
Federation President Jerry A. Newby credited the organization's grassroots leaders for getting the original exemption passed last year and for educating legislators about why farmers should not be treated like commercial carriers.