Jun 21, 2011  |  Today's News

By: Jonathan Greenstein, ICGA Legislative Intern

Earlier this year, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced three new interpretations of guidance that would dramatically affect Illinois and Midwestern agriculture.

Illinois Corn Growers Association is asking for farmers to submit comments to the FMCSA relative to how your own operation is impacted by these new regulations.  The most common repercussion for farmers is that they could be considered a “for-hire” carrier with the additional licensing requirements the Motor Carrier Safety Regulations entails.  Read on for further information.



The recent reinterpretations by FMCSA “designated crop share tenant farmers as ‘for-hire carriers’ and implements of husbandry as ‘commercial motor vehicles.’” Farmers have since then undergone New Entry Safety Audits, which found them to be out of compliance with Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (MCSR).

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s new interpretations will alter “long-standing relationships between landlords and tenants. The resulting shift from crop-share agreements in favor of cash rent would restructure the fundamentals of farming arrangements.”

There are three key interpretations of federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (MCSR) that are being cited by Illinois Farm Bureau® as being in error. Each of them results in the application of burdensome regulations on farmers that we argue were not intended for them. All of the interpretations come from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and impact truckers and trucking. Those three interpretations are:

  1. All grain hauled to market by a farmer is considered to be part of interstate commerce unless the receiver of that grain will process 100% of that product before it is shipped to points outside the state. If the grain is not processed in Illinois, the farmer would be considered an interstate carrier, subject to federal regulations.
  2. A tenant farmer who has entered into a crop-share agreement with a landlord is considered to be a for-hire carrier when hauling the landlord’s share of the grain to storage or market.
  3. Implements of husbandry of more than 10,000 pounds GVW (individually, or in combination) are considered to be commercial motor vehicles, thus subject to Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.

These guidance interpretations create burdensome regulations on farmers, who have been in compliance with existing regulations for more than a quarter century. The Illinois Corn Growers Association asks for your support in requesting that FMCSA’s guidance be corrected. The FMSCA has agreed to reconsider these recent interpretations and is now accepting comments through Thursday, June 30th.



As you answer these questions, you may realize how the new interpretations of this law will affect your operation.  These are important points to include in your comments so that Illinois lawmakers understand that their interpretations affect Illinois farmers.

  • Do you have a Commercial Drivers License (CDL)? Does your hired labor have CDLs? Are your children under the age of 21?
  • Do you rely on wagons to haul any grain on public roads?
  • Do you have USDOT Number? Are you registered for the UCR?
  • Do you rent any farmland through a crop-share agreement? Could that agreement be changed? Can you compete with others offering cash rent?
  • How might any of the above force you to change your operation?
  • Could you forego your own trucks and rely on commercial truckers at harvest time?
  • What costs would you incur to change your operation:
    • To meet the new regulatory requirements?
    • To match what exemptions remain in order to avoid the additional requirements?
  • If forced to comply with regulations applicable to for-hire carriers, would you consider doing for-hire trucking in the off-season to help cover costs?
  • How might the “family” nature of your operation be changed by these requirements?
  • What level of insurance coverage do you currently have on your trucks? Is it enough?



Comments can be submitted by any of the following methods:

  • Federal eRulemaking Portal: Follow e online instructions for submitting comments. Electronic documents may be attached.
  • Fax: 1-202-493-2251
  • Mail: Docket Management Facility, (M-30), U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), 1200 New Jersey Ave, SE., West Building Ground Floor, Room 12-140, Washington, DC 20590-0001.
  • To view and read other’s comments, click here.