Executive order supports farmers impacted by wildfires

Wisconsin State Farmer
A Farm Bureau's Young Leaders group finishes loading hay and fencing and feed supplies at a staging area east of Jacksonville, IL., as part of a coordinated wildfire relief effort to help farmers and ranchers near Ashland, KS. A convoy of trucks was scheduled to leave on Saturday, bound for western Kansas.

MADISON – When wildfires recently swept across Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma and Colorado, some farmers and ranchers lost everything, creating an emergency situation for those with livestock. Gov. Scott Walker issued an executive order in response and directed state agencies to coordinate to support Midwest farmers that want to help.

“I am proud so many farmers want to help their fellow farmers and ranchers across the country, and I am directing state agencies to join the effort,” Governor Walker said. “Continued donations of feed will be needed in the affected states for the months to come, and I know we can all accomplish more by working together.”

“While these farmers and ranchers will face many challenges in the months ahead, the most immediate need is for animal feed,” said Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) Secretary Ben Brancel. “If farmers in the Midwest want to assist by sending feed, the State of Wisconsin is prepared to be a partner in that effort.”

Gov. Scott Walker

“The Wisconsin Department of Transportation wants to help farmers get feed to those who have been devastated by these fires,” Department of Transportation (WisDOT) Secretary Dave Ross said. “We want to ensure that they get what they need as quickly as possible.”

Under Governor Walker’s order, carriers and drivers of motor vehicles who are obtaining and transporting baled hay, straw, cornstalks, and stover used for feed are exempt from weight limitations. This exemption authorizes weights not more than 90,000 pounds gross vehicle weight, if the vehicle is in combination and the combination has 5 or more axles; or not more than 10% greater than the gross axle weight and axle combination weight limitations, and not more than 15 percent greater than the gross weight vehicle limitations. Carriers and drivers of motor vehicles are also exempt from length limitations. This exemption authorizes combinations of 2 vehicles with an overall length of not more than 75 feet or a single vehicle with an overall length of not more than 45 feet.

Flames and smoke envelope a grain elevator in Sitka, KS., on, March 7, 2017. Grass fires fanned by gusting winds scorched swaths of Kansas grasslands threatening towns and destroying crops.

In addition, Secretary Ross has authorized the issuance of agricultural emergency permits allowing the transport of baled hay, straw, cornstalks, or stover to be used for feed on all highways of the state, during daylight hours, at a maximum overall height of 14 feet 6 inches and width of 12 feet 5 inches.

Secretary Ross has also waived the fee required to obtain 72-hour trip permits for vehicles traveling into Wisconsin that are not registered in Wisconsin nor enrolled in the International Registration Plan (IRP) or the International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA).  The agricultural emergency permits and fee waiver are effective from Friday, March 31, 2017, through Sunday, April 30, 2017.

  • To obtain a no-fee 72-hour trip permit, visit http://wisconsindot.gov/Pages/dmv/com-drv-vehs/mtr-car-trkr/trip-permits.aspx  
  • To obtain an agricultural emergency permit, call 608-266-7320 or email oversize-permits.dmv@dot.wi.gov.

DATCP encourages Wisconsin farmers to be suspicious if they receive high-pressure contacts by phone or email to make an immediate donation. Farmers should donate to organizations they trust and know what their donation is going for.

For more information from the affected states, visit:

Kansas: http://agriculture.ks.gov/news-events/kansas-wildfire-recovery-resources
Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Found.: http://www.oda.state.ok.us/Northwest%20Oklahoma%20Complex%20Fires%20Relief%20Assistance_update.pdf
Colorado Farm Bureau Federation: https://www.coloradofarmbureau.com/disasterfund