MACOMB —-To help farmers learn about the rules of the road for their farming vehicles, the McDonough, Knox and Warren-Henderson County Farm Bureaus hosted an on-the-road seminar Wednesday at the Spoon River College Outreach Center.
“We want to provide farmers with extra knowledge of new regulations that have kicked in, in addition to what exemptions we're able to them to help them out (with) when they are out on the road,” said Kirby Wagner, Illinois Farm Bureau Assistant Director of Transportation and Local Government.
Wagner and Illinois Farm Bureau Senior Director of Local Government Kevin Rund presented the on-the-road seminar on the behalf of the region's Farm Bureaus. Both Wagner and Rund said that the farmers’ rules of the road are based on both the federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (MCSR) for interstate travel and the Illinois Vehicle Code (IVC) at the state level for intrastate travel.
“A lot of farmers in Illinois have operations that fall under the exemptions,” Wagner said. “Depending on where you are at in the state, you could have a different type of operation and it really depends on the operation. It does apply to a large mass of farmers in Illinois's exemption base.”
The three main areas of farmer exemptions that Rund and Wagner touched on were the farm vehicle driver, covered farm vehicle and hours of service.
“The main exemptions that they can qualify for would be the farm vehicle driver exemption that has the most qualifications and the exemptions that have come up with that ... There is the covered farm vehicle exemption that provides qualified exemptions to a large part of the motor carrier safety regulations around here, especially the hours of service exemptions provided that they stay within their qualifications that can be really beneficial,” Wagner said.
For the farm vehicle driver, Wagner and Rund said the exemptions that the driver must qualify for are the driver must be the farmer, family member or employee that is hired by the farmer, and they must be hauling only for the farm from within the 150-mile radius from the farm. This exemption works for most farm trucks, but for semis, the driver must be 21 years old or older, the farmer or family member (parent, spouse, sibling or child by blood or marriage) and the semi must be farm plated and cannot be operated outside the state of Illinois.
For the cover farm vehicle exemption, Wagner and Rund said that it has the same rules as the farm vehicle driver except that the vehicles must be farm plated, which cost an additional $10 to the annual registration fee. The vehicle is not required to be placarded with hazardous materials placards. As for the range, the covered farm vehicle exemption only covers a range within Illinois and only on vehicles that weigh less than 26,001 pounds. Vehicles that weigh more than 26,001 pounds have an allowable range of only a 150-mile radius from the farm operation.
Other exemptions that Rund and Wagner talked about were the medical card exemption, which is only effective for straight truck drivers, and the logging requirements, which can be obtained through the short-haul operation, agricultural and the covered farm vehicle exemptions. For the CDL exemption, both Rund and Wagner said that the farm driver can qualify for the J51 license, but since it has the same tests and penalties as the full CDL, it is better to obtain the full CDL.
“Well, first of all, the county farm bureau is a good place to start,” Wagner said. “The county farm bureau’s manager can get in contact with myself and Kevin Rund at the Illinois Farm Bureau who have contacts with the state agencies to help in additionally on ilfb.org, the Illinois Farm Bureau website,” Wagner said. “Our booklet that we produced Motor Vehicle Rules for Illinois Farmers is available on the website.”
For McDonough County farmers that have more questions about the farmer rules of the road, contact the McDonough County Farm Bureau manager Sarah Grant by email at mcdonoughfb@gmail.com or by calling (309) 837-3350. Rund can be reached by email at rund@ilfb.org and Wagner can be reached by email at kwagner@ilfb.org.   

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