Rep. Reid Ribble (R-Wisc.) and Rep. Mike Michaud (D-Maine) this week introduced H.R. 612, the Safe and Efficient Transportation Act, that would modernize truck weight laws, which have not been updated in over 20 years, and bring relief to the nation’s agriculture sector.
The federal weight limit has been set at 80,000 pounds for more than 25 years. This measure gives states the option to increase truck-weight limits to 97,000 pounds with inclusion of a sixth axle on trucks. The additional axle maintains the current weight per axle level with the current standard and will also maintain the same braking capacity. This will increase hauling capacity and will result in fewer trucks on the roads, leading to fewer emissions and improved efficiency.
In a letter sent Wednesday to the bill’s cosponsors, NCC joined the agriculture industry in offering strong support for the legislation.
“As members of the agriculture industry, we are hindered by antiquated transportation rules and regulations that are inconsistent and impede the flow of commerce for agri-businesses,” the groups wrote. “Inconsistencies promote unsafe shipping on all roads and lead to greater transportation costs that strain the budgets of our family-owned businesses. On behalf of the agriculture industry, we thank you for supporting improvements in shipping efficiency and safety.”
The groups explained that increasing the truck weight limit to 97,000 pounds means that smaller operations can consolidate their goods into fewer shipments, which means there will be fewer trucks on the roads and less expense for small businesses. “This is a safe and cost-effective alternative that does not impede commerce,” they said.
The letter also highlighted the fact that many producers are seasonal in hauling their goods to market, which means they are not hauling 80,000-pound loads all day, every day.
“We are consistently at a disadvantage to other trucks on the roads,” the letter continued. “These trucks are allowed to haul a 100,000-pound load of foreign goods on a five-axle trailer to many of the same markets as ours. Unfortunately, our goods, which are produced domestically, are limited to 80,000-pound loads. Many of us often hit the federal weight limit with significant space in our trailers, and we are forced to use more trucks than necessary.”