The state Senate is set to vote on a bill that will allow farmers to legally operate machinery on roads this year. The measure from Senator Jerry Petrowski and Representative Keith Ripp grew out of a report issued following a series of town hall meetings around the state last fall.
Karen Gefvert with the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation said state laws dealing with farm equipment weight have not been updated since the 1960s – but that equipment has gotten steadily heavier in the ensuing years. “We have this situation where the laws have not been updated and we have machinery that exceeds the weight,” she said. “This legislation provides an opportunity to have farmers legally operate on the roadway to get from their farm to their field.”
Gefvert said specific statistics on the numbers of farmers who have been cited for weight violations are difficult to come by – but it’s a situation that’s more complicated than a speeding ticket. She said a farmer essentially has two options if pulled over for a weight violation. “Either make your equipment meet the legal weight limit by unloading part of your load or let the equipment sit, or load the equipment on a flatbed trailer.”
The bill is likely to pass the Senate on Tuesday. A spokeswoman for Assembly Speaker Robin Vos says he’s still reviewing the legislation. A seperate bill has been introduced in that chamber.