Do you Need a CDL to Drive a Farm Semi Truck?

Do you Need a CDL to Drive a Farm Semi Truck?

Farm semi trucks are very helpful to farmers with the hard labor required to be carried out on a daily basis. Using semi trucks, farmers can transport large amounts of products they are harvesting, and even livestock such as cows.

Semi trucks are especially useful on community supported agriculture farms that are located hundreds of miles away from the markets or place of trading. Sometimes, a few farmers from the same area can consolidate their products and transport it, all at once to the desired destination.

Many farmers and their families are not knowledgeable of the fact if they need a commercial driver’s license to drive a farm semi truck. Most of them will rejoice the information that they don’t need a CDL to drive a farm semi truck. Driver’s of farm semi trucks are referred to as a farm vehicle driver under the law. However, there is a limitation for the length of driving. The rules are set out by the Department of Transportation but individual states may have slightly varying laws. The general rule is farmers can drive a semi truck up to 150 air miles away from the farm without a commercial driver’s license. However, if the 150-mile radius means you’ll have to travel across the state border, then you’ll need a commercial driver’s license and the same rules that apply to truck drivers will apply to your farm tractor-trailer. The reason behind this rule is the notion of interstate commerce. That is why farmers cannot sell transport services of their semi trucks to the public or even other farmers for that matter. Moreover, if your home state has entered into a reciprocity agreement with an adjoining state, your farm vehicle exemption may be extended to that state. For example, Kansas and Missouri are known to have a reciprocity agreement that applies to the farm vehicle exemption. Furthermore, the semi truck-trailer must be driven by a farm member, the worker on the farm, or a member of the farmer’s family. If pulled over by authorities, farmers will need to have a verification document that the truck is intended for use for purposes relating only to the farm business. The registration and insurance papers are enough to prove this.

Many farm operations involve the use of pesticides and other chemicals. Where there are chemicals involved, there is the risk of hazardous materials. The transport of dangerous substances is permitted on farms between the fields of the same farm over any roadway except the interstate highways as long as the load does not require placarding. The HazMat training requirements are waived for farmers transporting dangerous goods within 150 miles of the farm.

Should you get a commercial driver’s license or hire a motor carrier?

A motor carrier is another name for a trucking company that can move a load for your farm in the event you fall under the rules that require you to have a CDL. It is certainly recommended to hire a trucking company if your farm obligations do not make it a reasonable option for you to get and maintain a CDL. There are many requirements for obtaining a CDL which can involve thousands of dollars in training costs, road test fees, drug testing, and more. Atop of that, even if you do manage to get a CDL, you will still need to have a trucking company formed under which you can operate per the FMSCA regulations.

The farmer CDL exemption was created to give relief to family farms. The conditions of the waiver were designed to focus on the family farm operation, and community supported agriculture. However, drivers for companies registered as corporations engaged in farming may be exempt from CDL requirements if they have met the waiver requirements.

Farm Plates

As stated earlier, you will still need to meet the minimum insurance requirements of your state to register your farm semi truck. Farm plates are individual license plates that mark the truck as evidence of proof that the registrant is a farmer and involved in the growing, raising, and production of farm products as a profession. License plates issued under the farm plate authority distinguish trucks engaged in the carrying or transportation of farm products and farm supplies from a truck involved in hauling for hire.

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