- DTN Headline News
Cash Market Moves
Tuesday, April 7, 2020 9:15AM CDT
By Mary Kennedy
DTN Cash Grains Analyst

The federal Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) was signed into law on March 26 and includes language requested by the Department of Transportation (DOT) to clarify state authority to issue special permits for increased truck weight. Under either a "major Disaster" or "emergency," states can issue special permits for heavier trucks to deliver relief supplies, ensuring the validity of state-issued special permits. The U.S. DOT authority allows states to "increase truck weight limits on U.S. and federal interstate highways within their jurisdictions during the COVID-19 emergency."

Many states have temporarily suspended rules regarding oversized and overweight loads of food, medical supplies and other household goods, and basically any goods needed during the pandemic. Louisiana, Mississippi, Iowa, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, Nebraska, Illinois, South Carolina, Wisconsin and Missouri are some of the states that allowed permitted weight changes, but many of them are not in harmony as far as weight limits. That can cause an issue for drivers who load heavy in one state but may need to cross in to a state that has different weight limits.

On March 30, the National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) and more than 60 national agricultural groups urged each state to increase truck weight limits on highways within their jurisdiction to a "minimum harmonized weight" of 88,000 pounds.

"Increased truck weights improve the food and agriculture industry's efficiency and capacity to deliver essential food, feed and key ingredients which sustain our food supply chain," the groups said in a letter to all state governors, lieutenant governors, transportation directors and agriculture commissioners. "This will become more critical if the availability of truck drivers is impacted adversely by COVID-19," noted the letter. Here is a link to the letter: https://www.dtn.com/…

In an April 2 webinar, sponsored by the NGFA, Max Fisher, NGFA vice president of economics and government relations, provided an overview on hours of service, truck weight and licensing changes amid the challenging COVID-19 landscape. "I recommend that anyone who wants to use these higher limits to reach out to your state department of transportation to verify the products that qualify for these higher weight limits, if your state has raised them," Fisher said to the more than 900 attendees on the webinar.

"Many states already have increased truck weight limits on some or all of the highways within their state," said Fisher. "NGFA and other agricultural organizations are encouraging state governments to raise truck weight limits to a minimum of 88,000 pounds on all of the roads within their state, while respecting bridge and posted seasonal or special road and/or local limitations."


The NGFA also noted that for first time ever at the national level and through at least April 12, U.S. DOT has waived hours-of-service (HOS) rules for drivers transporting "essential items" for the pandemic relief effort, noted the NGFA during the webinar.

-- Some examples of essential items are all medical supplies, supplies and equipment necessary for community safety, fuel and food, paper products and other groceries for emergency restocking.

-- Drivers do not need an official document to use the waiver for the pandemic relief effort.

-- U.S. DOT has specifically listed livestock, animal feed and fertilizer as eligible for HOS relief because they are "precursor" to "essential items," i.e., food. However, pet food is listed as ineligible.

-- Note: drivers transporting agricultural commodities, such as grain and feed, but not including processed products, already were exempt from HOS rules as long as they are within 150 air miles of the origin of the load.

On the issue of pet food being ineligible for the HOS relief, Fisher noted that, "One would think that if fertilizers are considered a precursor to food, and feed is considered a precursor to food that grain would be as well. Unfortunately, that's a bit of a gray area and we've asked USDA if they would be willing to reach out to U.S. DOT to get that clarified, but U.S. DOT still has not."

In addition, the NGFA, along with multiple food and ag groups, wrote a letter on March 25 to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) noting that the HOS relief was insufficient to adequately encompass the major beginning and middle segments of the food and agricultural supply chain. "Our members already are experiencing a tightening in trucking capacity and disruptions in truck transport in certain states and regions given state-imposed restrictions related to COVID-19. To address this situation, we strongly urge you to expand and extend the HOS relief from farm-to-fork, specifically by including raw and processed agricultural commodities, animal food and feed ingredients, processed food and food ingredients, honey bees and farm supplies to adequately preserve the resiliency of our nation's food supply during the pandemic."

The letter went on to note that food processers, animal feeding and pet food operations require a steady supply of raw and processed agricultural commodities, animal food and feed ingredients, and they often are not located within 150-air miles of their shipping point. "Further, U.S. agricultural exports, and by extension the agriculture supply chain, depend upon the ability to efficiently transport agricultural products (food, farm, fiber) to international maritime export gateways, by truck, either to seaports or to rail ramps, both often well in excess of 150 miles from the origin farms, storage or processing facilities," added the NGFA.

"We urge FMCSA to extend the hours-of-service relief to include all food and agricultural critical infrastructure operations to ensure the viability of the food distribution system." Here is a link to the NGFA March 25 letter: https://www.dtn.com/…

With all of the changes taking place recently, Fisher added, "A good business practice is to check with your state DOT on changes to the trucking rules during COVID-19."

The NGFA has dedicated space on their website for all COVID-19 industry resources: https://imis.ngfa.org/…

Mary Kennedy can be reached at mary.kennedy@dtn.com

Follow her on Twitter @MaryCKenn

(BE/SK )

blog iconDTN Blogs & Forums
DTN Market Matters Blog
Editorial Staff
Monday, April 6, 2020 12:15PM CDT
Friday, April 3, 2020 5:20PM CDT
Wednesday, April 1, 2020 2:29PM CDT
Technically Speaking
Editorial Staff
Monday, April 6, 2020 8:47AM CDT
Monday, March 30, 2020 8:58AM CDT
Monday, March 23, 2020 9:20AM CDT
Fundamentally Speaking
Joel Karlin
DTN Contributing Analyst
Wednesday, April 1, 2020 11:05AM CDT
Monday, March 30, 2020 10:40AM CDT
Wednesday, March 25, 2020 12:56PM CDT
DTN Ag Policy Blog
Chris Clayton
DTN Ag Policy Editor
Tuesday, April 7, 2020 6:47AM CDT
Wednesday, April 1, 2020 6:48PM CDT
Tuesday, March 31, 2020 12:41PM CDT
DTN Ag Weather Forum
Bryce Anderson
DTN Ag Meteorologist and DTN Analyst
Tuesday, April 7, 2020 2:44PM CDT
Friday, April 3, 2020 1:45PM CDT
Thursday, April 2, 2020 2:13PM CDT
DTN Production Blog
Pam Smith
Crops Technology Editor
Friday, April 3, 2020 5:07PM CDT
Friday, March 27, 2020 1:45PM CDT
Friday, March 20, 2020 5:43PM CDT
Harrington's Sort & Cull
John Harrington
DTN Livestock Analyst
Monday, April 6, 2020 2:28PM CDT
Monday, March 30, 2020 3:11PM CDT
Monday, March 23, 2020 3:43PM CDT
South America Calling
Editorial Staff
Tuesday, March 31, 2020 2:57PM CDT
Tuesday, March 24, 2020 1:44PM CDT
Wednesday, March 4, 2020 3:35PM CDT
An Urban’s Rural View
Urban Lehner
Editor Emeritus
Friday, March 20, 2020 8:30AM CDT
Monday, March 2, 2020 10:03AM CDT
Thursday, February 20, 2020 1:35PM CDT
Machinery Chatter
Dan Miller
Progressive Farmer Senior Editor
Friday, April 3, 2020 3:05PM CDT
Tuesday, March 31, 2020 11:15AM CDT
Thursday, March 26, 2020 1:52PM CDT
Canadian Markets
Cliff Jamieson
Canadian Grains Analyst
Tuesday, April 7, 2020 3:39PM CDT
Monday, April 6, 2020 4:48PM CDT
Friday, April 3, 2020 4:39PM CDT
Editor’s Notebook
Greg D. Horstmeier
DTN Editor-in-Chief
Tuesday, March 24, 2020 12:53PM CDT
Thursday, March 5, 2020 5:06PM CDT
Friday, November 22, 2019 5:37PM CDT
Copyright DTN. All rights reserved. Disclaimer.
Powered By DTN