Several bills supported by Pennsylvania Farm Bureau that seek to address transportation-related concerns faced by Pennsylvania farmers are moving forward in the legislative process.
The state Senate Transportation Committee voted unanimously to advance Senate Bill 725, which would clarify what type of license farmers need to operate heavier trucks, and Senate Bill 736, which would add flexibility for home delivery of farm products. Both measures now head to the full Senate for consideration.
Meanwhile, the House Transportation committee voted 15-10 to send House Bill 1232, which would allow transportation of heavier loads of spring planting materials, to the full House for consideration.
Senate Bill 725, sponsored by Sen. Camera Bartolotta of Washington County, would clarify that farmers may operate trucks, or truck combinations, with a gross vehicle weight above 26,000 pounds with a Class C driver’s license. A 2014 law allows farmers to operate heavier trucks without a commercial driver’s license. Pennsylvania State Police have more recently interpreted that law as requiring farmers to hold a Class A license when operating heavier vehicles and have taken enforcement action as a result. The bill would affirm that the General Assembly’s intent was for farmers to be able to operate such vehicles with the more common Class C license.
Senate Bill 736, sponsored by Sen. Wayne Langerholc of Cambria County, would allow farmers to use farm-registered vehicles for the home delivery of products they produce on their farms. The state’s vehicle code allows farmers to use farm-registered vehicles to transport products to and from a place of business; however, if a farmer wanted to start a home-delivery service for their products, they would need to obtain a commercial registration for a vehicle. This is challenge for agriculture, especially as more farms expand into home delivery, because many of the exemptions provided to farmers are predicated on them driving a farm-registered vehicle.
House Bill 1232, sponsored by Rep. Jason Silvis of Westmoreland County, would create seasonal overweight permit for the movement of up to 95,000 pounds of lime, fertilizer and/or seed between March and June. This would help farmers get ready for spring planting with fewer truck trips.