The Dairy Business Association applauds Rep Joan Ballweg and her colleagues Rep Gary Tauchen, Rep Lee Nerison, Rep Howard Marklein, and Rep Travis Tranel for their leadership on introducing AB 842, which will allow Wisconsin's farmers and agribusinesses to utilize their Implements of Husbandry (IoH) during upcoming planting and harvesting seasons without fear of being ticketed by law enforcement.
DBA agrees there is urgency to address the road weight and safety issues related to IoH before the legislature adjourns in April. Doing nothing is not an option. But doing the wrong thing would be far worse for farmers and agribusinesses than doing nothing at all.
AB 842 provides a fair, reasonable, and immediate solution to the primary IoH road issues without placing unnecessary burdens on farmers and agribusinesses. AB 842 also provides lawmakers more time to develop a more comprehensive IoH solution over the next 18 months.
AB 842 allows farmers to legally operate an IoH up to 92,000 lbs and gives local law enforcement authority to ticket the haulers that are operating above 92,000 lbs. It also removes the burdensome permitting process contained in SB 509 and AB 648, which would force farmers, agribusinesses and co-ops to obtain dozens or even hundreds of permits to operate their IoH on local roads.
"To go from minimal to no weight enforcement on our roads to a complicated permitting system is too burdensome a change," said Ballweg. "Change should come after further thought, discussion, and ample time for implementation. That is why we need a bill this session that puts a moratorium on enforcement of current weight limits for up to 18 months. Our farmers can conduct business as usual, and all stakeholders can sit down to find a sustainable solution."
Laurie Fischer, executive director of DBA said, "We commend Sen Petrowski and Rep Ripp for their efforts to date on SB 509 and AB 648. The authors have acknowledged SB 509 and AB 648 are not perfect, but have promised to fix the problems next session. That is too big of a risk trying to revise a bill after it has been passed. Our members cannot afford to take this type of risk and need a fix immediately. AB 842 provides a fair and reasonable short-term solution to the IoH issue while giving lawmakers, farmers, agribusiness and local units of government more time to get this right."
SB 509 and AB 648 require farmers and other agribusinesses to obtain permits for most of their IoH. In many cases, farmers will need to obtain permits from multiple towns and counties to move equipment from field to field. For equipment that is denied a permit, the owner may be left with a machine that is unusable. These bills also establish lighting and marking requirements for all equipment, and elevated weight limitations depending on the distance of feet between the front and rear axles of the equipment.
DBA is asking dairy farmers and agribusinesses across the state to contact their Legislators and ask them to support the Rep Ballweg's IoH solution - AB 842. To find contact information for your legislators, go to www.widba.com.
AB 842 addresses the heaviest equipment, which we all agree requires immediate attention. It also provides time to allow farmers to make operational and business decisions regarding the use of certain equipment before they are either in an enforcement situation, or faced with the prospect of owning heavyweight equipment that cannot be used.
For more information about DBA, visit their website at www.widba.com.