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Farming Transportation: Covered Farm Vehicle Regulations

Updated March 8, 2019 | By Wilson Kehoe Winingham staff

If you are operating farm vehicles or transporting agricultural equipment or livestock, it is important to know what federal and state regulations apply to your vehicle and how you intend to use it.

What licenses do you need? How many hours can you operate the farm vehicle? What policies are in play? These questions need answers before you begin operating your covered farm vehicle.

Definition of Covered Farm Vehicles

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)—a federal agency in the Department of Transportation—regulates the trucking industry, requiring commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs) and hours of service (HOS) limits for truck drivers in the United States. FMCSA also regulates farm vehicles.

Covered farm vehicles (CFVs) are defined as those that meet all the following conditions:

  • Straight trucks or articulated vehicles
  • Operated by the owner, family member, or employee of a farm or ranch
  • Transporting agricultural commodities (livestock, supplies, machinery, etc.)
  • A license plate (or other state-specific means) identifying it as a farm vehicle

Alternatively, CFVs do not include vehicles that are used for the following:

  • For-hire motor carrier operations
  • Transporting hazardous materials

FMCSA has some exemptions for the licensing and service hours requirements for vehicles used for agricultural purposes.

Federal Farm Vehicle Regulations

Generally, vehicles with a gross vehicle weight of 26,001 pounds or more require a CDL to operate and must follow federal HOS rules. However, there are several exemptions in place for agriculture, non-commercial purposes, and specific types of cargo.

Agricultural Exemptions

CFVs weighing 26,001 pounds or more are exempt from CDL and HOS regulations if they are either operated in the state of registration or within a 150-mile radius of the farm or ranch.

Non-Commercial Exemptions

Vehicles used for non-commercial purposes are exempt from CDL and HOS requirements. This exemption includes the transportation of horses, livestock, or other animals to shows, events, or other non-business destinations.

Cargo Exemptions

Due to the delicate nature of transporting live cargo, FMCSA has rules concerning drivers from HOS regulations. If a driver is transporting commercial bees or livestock, they are exempt from the required 30-minute break. However, this exemption only applies while the bees or livestock are on board the vehicle.

Breakdown: Do You Need a CDL?

With so many exemptions and regulations, it can be difficult to determine whether you must abide by HOS requirements or carry a CDL. Consider these questions:

  • Are you operating a CFV weighing more than 26,001 pounds?
  • Are you transporting livestock for commercial purposes?
  • Are you transporting hazardous materials?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, take a careful look at FMCSA regulations. You may be required to have a CDL.

Contact a Farming Accident Attorney Today

If you have been injured as a result of a farming accident, you are urged to contact the Indianapolis Farming Accident Attorneys of Wilson Kehoe Winingham. The lawyers at WKW can help you with the next steps in pursuing a farming accident case. Call 317.920.6400 or fill out an online contact form for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.

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