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19 August 2011 - My List is One Item Shorter

I am feeling pretty good this week because I can remove an item from my "This makes absolutely no sense" list.

You may recall a couple of weeks ago I talked about one of those items I would like to see removed from the list. The item was the proposed change for farm equipment by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, part of the Department of Transportation. It is the rule change that would require all farmers, ranchers, and everyone on the farm or ranch who operates a tractor, combine or other motorized farm equipment to obtain a commercial driver’s license known in the trucking business as a CDL.

I heard from a lot of you who agreed with me and I am delighted to report the rule change has been dropped by the Department of Transportation. I got that news this week from the President of the Illinois Farm Bureau, Phil Nelson.

The story of getting the proposed change dropped is interesting. The Illinois Farm Bureau invited some of the top officials of the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration to come to the state and visit with farmers, country elevator operators and grain shippers to learn first-hand what this rule change would do in rural America.

The officials came, they spent a couple of days talking, and while I am pleased with the results of the conversations, I’m also very bothered by what caused the officials to change their mind on the rule. As they talked to people and heard first-hand the situation the rule change would create, they admitted "we didn’t realize that when we wrote the rule. Didn’t know that it would do that." This highlights a concern I have had for decades.

Government regulatory agencies like the DOT and certainly the EPA are, in my opinion, staffed by people who have never set foot on a farm or ranch and yet, write regulations that look good on paper (in their eyes) and are impossible for farmers and ranchers to live by... containing dust inside your farming operation is a prime example. I think it should be mandatory for every rule that is written for agricultural producers by a government agency that, before it becomes law, a hearing be held on a farm or ranch, not in a Congressional hearing room to determine if it makes any sense and if it is workable.

I hope what happened in Illinois this month will become the norm and then I can speed up the process of scratching items off my "This makes absolutely no sense" list.

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.