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Episode 34: Farming Equipment on the Road: Common Questions Answered with Barry Thompson and Anthony Lester

If you're a farmer and need to travel on the road with heavy equipment or machinery, it's important to know the rules and guidelines. In Ohio, there are specific requirements for everything from slow-moving vehicles to hauling fuel and fertilizer. In this episode, we talk to Sergeant Barry Thompson and Anthony Lester, who both have backgrounds with the Ohio State Highway Patrol. They answer some common questions about driving farm equipment on the road and provide guidance on the regulations.

Here are ten top questions they answered about operating farming equipment on public roads:

Q: What am I required to have on my equipment while driving on the road?

A: A slow-moving vehicle (SMV) emblem is required on the rear of the tractor or equipment. If your tractor is capable of exceeding 25 miles per hour, an SMV emblem is still required plus identification from the manufacturer that signals to people behind you what speed the tractor is capable of traveling. For multi-wheeled vehicles, flashing lights are required on both far extremities of the vehicle.

Q: What rules do I need to pay attention to when operating a semi or large tandem truck?

A: Within 150 miles of your farm, you are exempt from most other commercial carrier guidelines. The important thing to remember is that once you cross state lines, you lose farm exemption. For example, if you cross into Indiana, you are required to have your company name and DOT number on the truck in addition to carrying a unified carrier registration permit.

Q: What are the weight limits for hauling grain, fertilizer, or fuel off the farm?

A: A maximum weight of 80,000 pounds plus an excess of seven and a half percent is allowed year-round except for during February and March. An important thing to note is that Ohio’s weight law is based on length. For example, if you are on the roadways with a set of tandem axles, the weight limit is 35,000; and the single axle limit is 20,000, but the overall gross weight depends on the length from the center of your steer axle to the center of your trailer axle to the last axle on your truck. Once you are on an interstate system, you lose the seven-and-a-half percent allowance. Permits are available through ODOT to run heavier.

Q: Are there any insurance requirements for driving machinery and equipment on the road?

A: Under Ohio’s farm exemption, there are no insurance requirements. However, when hauling for hire or going onto the interstate system, these exemptions do not apply.

Q: Can I have someone help me haul grain to the elevator?

A: If you are helping out a farmer, you share the same exceptions and are not considered a for-hire carrier.

Q: Can I operate my farm utility vehicles on roadways?

A: When used as a farm tool or going from field to field, utility vehicles or side-by-side vehicles are allowed for short distances and farm-related work.

Q: When is a US DOT number required?

A: A US DOT number is not required unless you are crossing state lines. If you are crossing state lines, you will need a US DOT number and a unified carrier registration. It’s also good practice to put “Farm Use” on the side of your vehicle.

Q: When am I required to have an oversize permit?

A: The rule of thumb is that once you put a piece of equipment, tractor, or combine on a trailer and it’s wider than 8’6” or taller than 13’6”, you will need to have a permit. If you routinely haul equipment, you can get a blanket permit that will cover you for so many days, months, or a year.

Q: What do I need to know when hauling fuel or fertilizer?

A: Moving fertilizer or fuel to and from the farm is typically not subject to hazardous material requirements, especially after being diluted. The biggest thing to remember is to stay under 118 gallons.

Q: What are the age requirements for operating farm machinery?

A: When operating a regular semi or straight truck, the age requirement is 16. A CDL is not needed unless crossing state lines and you must be 18. For driving a tractor or combine on the road, there is no age requirement. If you’re going to have someone without a driver’s license operating these vehicles, be sure that they are experienced and capable.

Here’s a glance at this episode:

  • [01:54] Sergeant Barry Thompson introduces himself and his background with the Ohio State Highway Patrol.
  • [02:49] Anthony Lester introduces himself and his background with the Ohio State Highway Patrol.
  • [03:26] Barry and Anthony discuss the driving changes they’ve seen over the past few years, from driverless technology to distracted driving.
  • [07:50] Barry explains what farmers are required to have on their equipment while driving on the road.
  • [10:29] Talking about the motoring public, Barry explains how and when to safely pass farming equipment.
  • [13:00] Discussing semis and large tandem trucks, Anthony explains Ohio’s farm exception guidelines.
  • [16:50] Anthony and Barry explain Ohio’s weight laws as they apply to hauling grain and fertilizer.
  • [21:33] Anthony answers if there are insurance requirements for farmers and their equipment on the roadways.
  • [22:37] Discussing a scenario where a neighbor may be helping a farmer haul grain to the elevator, Anthony discusses if that help shares the same exemptions as the farmer.
  • [24:06] Barry explains the limitations of using side-by-side and utility vehicles as farm equipment versus normal transportation.
  • [26:11] Anthony shares when US DOT and PUCO numbers are required.
  • [31:01] Talking about what constitutes having an oversize permit, Barry shares situations in which a permit would be needed.
  • [33:48] Discussing hauling hazardous materials, Anthony explains how farmers moving fertilizer or fuel are not typically subject to hazardous material requirements.
  • [40:57] Barry shares the age requirements for different types of farm vehicles and equipment.
  • [43:21] Anthony and Barry share how young farmers can obtain their CDL and the benefits of having it.

Resources mentioned in this episode:
Truck Drivers Guidebook

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Sergeant Barry Thompson has been with Ohio State Highway Patrol for 26 years, working in the commercial section for eight years. Since he was a kid he knew he wanted to be involved with the Ohio State Patrol. He enjoys working with people and helping educate the public while keeping the roads safe.

Anthony Lester is the Motor Care Enforcement Supervisor with Ohio State Highway Patrol. He's also been with the Ohio State Highway Patrol for 26 years.


Voiceover (00:08):Welcome to AgCredit Said It. In each episode, our hosts sit down with experts from all parts of the agriculture industry to bring you insights and must-have information on all things from farming to finances and everything in between.

Libby Wixtead (00:28):Welcome back to AgCredit Said It. I'm Libby Wixtead and I'm here with Matt Adams for today's episode.

Matt Adams (00:34):Libby, this is quite the room we got here for this episode. Looking around this table, reminiscent of last night, Libby. We had an event to attend. Usually, when there's city driving, I have Libby drive, just for one, it's entertaining for me, and keeps my adrenaline going, for one. But we've seen some of these gentlemen find coworkers that Libby got a little mad at. Why are they out here watching me? So always entertaining, going places with Libby.

Libby Wixtead (01:07):Yeah, it's probably good that we're not husband and wife just because I think we keep it together a little bit while you're not driving and you're riding along with me.

Matt Adams (01:15):"Turn here. Why didn't you turn back there?"

Libby Wixtead (01:19):Today we are actually speaking with Ohio State Patrol and motor carrier officers to help us better understand how to operate farmer equipment and trucks on the roads. AgCredit has actually had a couple of meetings with the Ohio State Patrol throughout our territory and we thought it would be a great episode to have and carry this conversation on this platform. So today we have Sergeant Barry Thompson and Motor Care Enforcement Supervisor Anthony Lester with us. So Sergeant Thompson, would you share a little bit about yourself and what brought you to the Ohio State Patrol?

Barry Thompson (01:54):Yes, I've been with the patrol a little over 26 years. I've been in our commercial section combined, for about eight years. This is something I've wanted to do since I was little. Ever since I was a little kid I've wanted to be a state trooper. I've always liked being outside, working with other people. I've never really had a problem talking to folks and I like to be a part of the solution. I like to help and do things for good and this encompasses all those things. And just a little side plug for those that are listening, we are hiring all different positions. So if anybody else has that drive or that will make a difference out here on the highways, it's just been a really rewarding and great job when you can go out there and make a difference, make things safer, and things like this where education comes in, is just excellent where we can sit down and inform people that maybe have some misconceptions or just grasping for knowledge. So these are just excellent opportunities and we appreciate you guys having us here.

Libby Wixtead (02:49):Yes, you're welcome. And what about you, Anthony?

Anthony Lester (02:52):How do I follow that up? No, I came to the patrol about 26 years ago. May 17th will be 26 years. I came over from Pupil Transportation actually down in Jackson and Benton County. And the patrol was influential on me because when I took over the agency we had some non-compliances and the highway patrol put on some quarterly meetings and some training and different things. And that's when I first got exposed to them and I was very impressed and I wanted to join their team. Took me a couple of years, but I finally got through the door and got into motor carrier work. So that's what put me here today.

Matt Adams (03:26):Well excellent. Well thank you, guys, for being part of this today and I know you guys have a long tenure career, you've probably seen a ton of changes, probably just on the motor carrier side, but probably just driving and the skills. Going down a little bit, I guess I'm just curious, when you look at, just in general, over say, the last 10 years, have things changed a lot that you guys have seen?

Barry Thompson (03:58):Yeah, go ahead.

Anthony Lester (03:59):The biggest thing with the trucking industry is technology. Electronics are everywhere. The braking systems have improved on them. The automatic transmissions have come down the pike. It's just the old school driving and those abilities are still very important, but you got a lot more technology, you got a lot more liability out there. We've got camera systems on the trucks now. We didn't have those before. We've got radar systems out there on the trucks now where we'll actually apply the brakes for the driver. All that stuff was unheard of before and it's still moving and there's a big shift for efficiency obviously with the fuel prices and things like that. So yeah, it doesn't look the same as it did 10 years ago, let alone 26 years ago.

Matt Adams (04:45):It's something interesting, I see, at least on the trucks, just watching stuff on the internet, the electric trucks, for one, that are out there now, don't really think they're in our area yet, but even some of the driverless stuff. I'm sure that's just a mass of stuff you guys are just trying to keep up with.

Anthony Lester (05:06):Yeah, it is. It's a lot to keep up with. Some of the autonomous drivers and the systems they're coming up with now, they actually are experimenting with one where the driver will log in, start the truck, put it on a set route, and then go to the bunk and he's done. There's nobody behind the wheel of that truck. And maybe I'm old school, but that's a little scary to me. We might be there someday, but I don't think we're there yet.

Matt Adams (05:32):And Sergeant Thompson, just probably from what you've seen, just normal driving habits. For one, there's one thing I see anymore and when I'm driving between all of our branches, Libby, and coming to visit everyone, and I know it's not allowed, everybody you pass has a cell phone up to their ear or they're talking. I mean, I just think that that distraction probably is just something you guys really try and... Is that one of the big concerns out there is distracted driving?

Barry Thompson (05:59):Yeah, I mean distracted driving is a big thing now. I mean the cars and the trucks are safer now than they've ever been, but we have so many distractions, more distractions. Even the car. I mean, in most cars, your dashboard has that big TV screen in it now. Cell phones do have Bluetooth and wireless capabilities, but even talking on a phone wirelessly over Bluetooth is just as distracting as holding that phone up to your ear. So distracted driving is a huge issue. I mean, we've made leaps and bounds of making vehicles safer, the highways safer and all these things, but that distracted driving is a personal choice we have to make each time we get in that vehicle that we stay as least distracted as possible. And as traffic gets heavier and obviously, city driving can be stressful at times apparently, that we found out the other day. And keeping that stress level down and focused on that driving is key.

Matt Adams (06:53):Well, and before we get too far into this guys, there is one thing, I just want to thank you guys for your service and what you do for us out there. When you see the flashing lights in your rear view mirror, it's because they're there to correct a problem. It's because we did something wrong or they're wanting to prevent something. They're not there just to be an annoyance to you. They're there to make you safe. And I think that's one thing that probably gets overlooked some, but I just want to thank you guys very much for everything you do for us.

Anthony Lester (07:21):Yeah, I appreciate it. At the end of the day, we just want everybody to get home safely. That's the main thing right there.

Matt Adams (07:26):Well, Libby, let's jump into some of the questions here. One of the big topics, we’ve got planting season coming up, harvest season. Really, I guess I talk about seasons, but when you look at our commercial farmers now, it's year-round. There's something always going, whether it's seed delivery, moving equipment, livestock guys, we're always out on the road doing stuff, so let's dive into it.

Libby Wixtead (07:50):Yeah, so why don't we just start with the basics here. What are farmers required to have on their equipment while driving down the road?

Barry Thompson (07:58):So on your tractors and your combines and your equipment like that that aren't registered, they're slow-moving vehicles. So you are required to have that slow-moving vehicle emblem on the rear of that tractor to let everybody know that you're not going very fast and you can't go very fast. Now with the technology we talked about earlier, there are tractors and equipment that can exceed 25 miles an hour. On those, you have to have the SMV sign on the back, plus you have to have that identification symbol from the manufacturer that tells people behind you what that vehicle's capable of traveling. So if that's 35 miles an hour, if that's 40 miles an hour, you have to have that SMV and that posted on the rear of that tractor or that piece of equipment. And then you can travel at that speed, but you have to have both of those on there. And some people have very large equipment now. You have dual-wheeled vehicles and track vehicles and they're so much wider.

Matt Adams (08:51):Yeah, we have some combines out there now and sprayers. I mean, some of these combines with our floater tires, we're taking up two-thirds of both lanes going down with some of this stuff.

Barry Thompson (09:00):Yeah, they've gotten big. So these multi-wheeled vehicles and these very wide vehicles, you have to make sure that you have lights to the far extremities, left and right. So you'll see, and most of the people listening have seen them. They got those large bars that go across and the amber lights that are flashing. So those are required when you have those dual wheels on there or those wide vehicles as well. If you're driving at night, just like a car, you have to have at least one headlight to the front and then you have to have at least two taillights to the rear or one tail light and two red reflectors just for visibility. If you're in one of those wide multi-wheeled vehicles, you have to have your lights flashing at all times as well because that notifies the public of something large and big up ahead.

Matt Adams (09:40):And one thing I just want to point out too, and I'm a farmer, Libby's a farmer. One thing guys, when you pull out on the road and it's night, make sure your lights aren't covered in dust, the dirt. Even if they're flashing, if they're covered with a big chunk of mud, they're not doing anybody any good.

Barry Thompson (09:54):Yeah, they can be obscured. That's for sure.

Libby Wixtead (09:57):So I guess going along with guys having their equipment out on the road, could you speak a little bit to, they're notifying the public that they're there, what about the public? What is the best way to safely pass this farmer's equipment? Because we all see too many times, at least I see, I witness it every spring and fall. People are not safely passing this equipment because it's so large. You're on a little county road or better yet, you're on a state route, which you have a little bit more room for.

Barry Thompson (10:29):So that's the difficult part for the farmer himself and the motoring public around them. Obviously, you're allowed to have that big piece of equipment that might be 18 feet wide on a road that's not designed for that. So they have that aspect of you're allowed to be there, but you can't cause damage just because you're allowed to be there. So guardrails, oncoming traffic, signs, and overhead structures because some of these combines and tractors are over 13'6", which is the legal height. So it doesn't give them carte blanche obviously, just to do their thing. But when we're talking about the motoring public, so when you're passing someone, you have to signal that you're going to pass, plus give an audible sign letting them know that you're going to be passed, and then that visual sign, again, when you overtake them.


(11:13):But there are some areas that aren't safe. You have county roads that are only 18 feet wide and this combine or this sprayer takes up the entire road. Unfortunately, you're just going to have to patiently wait behind that vehicle until they get to their field or they have a wide spot they can pull off to allow traffic to go past. You can be passed over a double yellow line because you're going under half the speed limit of that. Normally, they're 55 zones. But it has to be a place where there are no intersections, there's no curves, no hillcrest, and you have a clear line of sight that you can clearly see.  I can overtake this vehicle without impeding oncoming traffic. So on both sides of the hand, it's a safety factor out there. A lot of your farmers probably live in urban areas now. When they started the farm, there was nobody around. And then people have moved in, which it makes even more tricky for them and they have to be even more cautious as they're traversing the roads.

Matt Adams (12:04):One thing you said is patience. Patience is a virtue people. I, as a farmer, don't want to be on that road any longer than I have to. I want to get off so you can get past me. I want to get to the next field I'm working in. So I always say, what was it? The ODOT, so it was always, "Give them a break. Hey, give the farmers a break." We don't want to be on that road anymore holding you guys up than we have to be. But so Anthony, I want to dive into a little bit here. So we're talking about the big equipment and then we get into where you come in. Most of our operations now have either semis or large tandem trucks. I'll put it this way, I'm a farmer. I don't have to pay the same attention to the rules that the commercial carriers do, right? I'm farm exempt, right?

Anthony Lester (13:00):Well, you do have quite a few exemptions, but I don't know if I'd go that far. Basically in a nutshell, Ohio's farm exemption is a pretty strong exemption. It's a good exemption. Use it, and stay within the guidelines. The basics of it is, 150 air miles from the farm, and you're exempt. You're going to be exempt from FMCSA's guidelines, and PUCO'S guidelines. However, you're not exempt from Ohio Revised Code. And that's where this gentleman sitting next to me comes in. The important thing to remember with the CDL guidelines is not to exceed 150 air miles.

Matt Adams (13:33):150.

Anthony Lester (13:34):Yes. When you exceed that 150 air miles, at that point, all the regulations will apply to you.

Matt Adams (13:39):Okay.

Anthony Lester (13:40):You see what I mean?

Matt Adams (13:41):Yeah.

Anthony Lester (13:41):Then at that point, you basically become a private commercial carrier. Do you see? And that's where some people get some confusion when they step outside the exemption. Really, from a farming standpoint, the advantage that farming has is you know the area you're in, you know the commodities you haul, and the distances you've got to go. All you’ve got to do is do a little homework first and then if you go to change your operations in any way, research it. If you're going out of the norm on main, somebody's got a good deal on some seed or something over in Indiana, make sure and make a phone call and see what you've got to do to go over there legally.

Matt Adams (14:18):And I guess that brings up my next question. So where I work out of is in Paulding County and we are right on the Ohio-Indiana line so that 150 air miles and that will travel from my base in Pauling, even into Indiana or possibly even Michigan as well. So it stays within that range, not necessarily a state-by-state, but as soon as I cross that 150, I'm a commercial carrier at that point.

Anthony Lester (14:43):Right, and then something else I'll throw out there when you cross the state line, you will lose a few things in your exemption. One of them is you do have to have your company name on the truck. You have to have a DOT number. A lot of people don't realize that. The other thing is there's a permit, if you will, that's called a unified carrier registration. You would be required to carry that. And also, when you cross into Indiana, Indiana's enforcement personnel can run an FMCSA inspection on your vehicle. So you want to make sure and have good tires, good lights, things like that.

Matt Adams (15:18):And that's one thing, I look at the inspections, is it required as a farmer to have that done on our rigs or is it just more of a suggestion?

Anthony Lester (15:30):The 396 yearly inspections are not required on the farm trucks. That's one thing that even crossing a state line, you're not going to be required to do.

Matt Adams (15:37):Okay.

Anthony Lester (15:37):Okay? Same way with a medical card, you're not going to be required that either. It's just your vehicle, the company name, DOT number, and unified carrier registration fee if you cross that state line.

Matt Adams (15:48):Okay.

Libby Wixtead (15:50):But if you do go and, I guess, change what you're doing in your operation a little bit, does that change that inspection?

Anthony Lester (15:59):The yearly inspection?

Libby Wixtead (16:00):Yes.

Anthony Lester (16:00):No. Actually, if it's a covered farm vehicle, that inspection's never going to be required. Never going to be required.

Matt Adams (16:07):So another question I get with a lot of guys, there's always the weight limit and when we're hauling grain especially. And probably even to a point now with some of our bigger setups with our liquid fertilizer tanks and some of the large quantities we're hauling, we looked at 80,000 and can you dive in just briefly, refresh everybody on when we're hauling off the farm, basically, I think they consider it out of the field or off the base operations. I know there's a little bit of leeway there, just a little bit, almost like a grace area for us when we're hauling out of the field. Since we don't have a scale right there to know exactly where we're going to be.

Anthony Lester (16:50):You're going to be allowed the seven and a half percent year-round except for February and March.

Matt Adams (16:56):Except for February and March, okay.

Anthony Lester (16:57):When you come out of the field. So you can have a maximum weight of 80,000 pounds plus a seven and a half percent. The one thing I will throw out there along those lines is that we have a permit system in Ohio that's actually a wonderful permit system. So let's say you've got a thousand acres somewhere, big piece of ground you got to work, you can actually get in touch with ODOT and get an account started with them, give them your information, and get a permit to run even heavier than that if you'd like to.

Matt Adams (17:26):Okay.

Anthony Lester (17:27):But those permits are very restrictive. When you get the permit and it's issued to you, you have to follow the guidelines behind that permit. If you step outside the guidelines on that permit, then they're going to take your weight back to 80,000 pounds.

Matt Adams (17:39):Okay. Got you.

Anthony Lester (17:42):It's another tool in the toolbox to use.

Barry Thompson (17:44):And Matt, before you go on just a little bit more on the weight, that is one misconception that the 80,000 pounds isn't for every vehicle, so Ohio's weight laws all belt on length.

Matt Adams (17:55):So that was going to be my next thing because we look at, there are one-ton pickups out there, pulling up 30, 35-foot gooseneck trailer loaded down. Well, you're about the same length as what we would be on one of our rigs at that point.

Barry Thompson (18:07):And you have a few different things there. You obviously have what your tires are rated at, those play a big role in that. But just Ohio's weight law, and I'm going to leave you guys with this book so you can share this and anybody can get this book off of our website that has all the weight laws in it. But like I said, if you're not on an interstate highway system, the weight you'd be allowed on a set of tandem axles, two axles together, will be 35,000. A single axle will be 20,000. The overall gross depends on how long you are. So you would have to measure from the center of your steer axle to the center of your trailer axle to the last axle on your truck. And then you use this and it'll show you exactly what your gross weight's allowed to be.


(18:49):Now if you go on the interstate system, if you go on 71, 77, any of these 75, you lose that seven and a half percent. There is no excess on an interstate system because there are two different codes. You're using the interstate bridge formula versus Ohio's law. So just remember if you're on the interstate hauling, as soon as you hit that interstate, you lose it. But as I said, we do give that seven and a half percent from the field, like you said, you can't weigh it. You don't know exactly if you're getting things centered right and that is available.

Matt Adams (19:22):Now I guess one thing I was just thinking, I guess want your guys' opinion on this, and so we look at some of these large hopper wagons that are out there, 500, 600-bushel wagons, and we get pulling with a big tractor. We're pulling two of these wagons. We got a thousand plus bushel on wagons being pulled by a tractor. Do we need to look at the weight and stuff when we're with that, even though it's being two wagons pulled by a tractor?

Barry Thompson (19:52):You'd be having the same rules.

Matt Adams (19:55):I always wondered that because you always think, "Well, it's hopper wagons, it's different. I'll have a semi." Kind of thing.

Barry Thompson (20:01):Yeah, same thing. It's like I said, it would all be depending on the distance between those axles and how long the vehicle is, what weight you would get for an axle weight, or a gross overload.

Matt Adams (20:10):Okay, perfect.

Libby Wixtead (20:12):Yeah, that's like the speed that we're at our farms. It's good to know.

Anthony Lester (20:16):Well, and I'll tell you, if I could throw something in there real quick, something always to remember when you're dealing with weights is do your homework on that because anytime you take a vehicle out on the road if you're exceeding the weights allowed on that vehicle, there are liabilities behind that if you do have an accident. And we always got to be aware of our civil liabilities and things. The vehicles are engineered basically to handle X amount of weight. We wanna stay within those guidelines if we can.

Matt Adams (20:42):And I think that's one thing we want to just go back to that what we're talking about today, it's not nonsense. The whole point is to make everybody safe. If we can follow the rules and useful stuff to what they're designed for. Shame on you if you're going to push the limits of something because it wasn't designed for it, and then you're not going to put yourself at risk, but the person around you. And I look at that too. Especially on the farm side, family operations. I think a lot about my three young kids. I would never want to do something that jeopardizes their safety or the employees on our farm's safety too because I'm not following the rules just to say, "Well, if I push this, well that's two less loads I got to haul out of the field." Well, it's not worth it.

Libby Wixtead (21:33):Yeah. I mean, I know we're always in a push in planting season and harvesting season, but it comes down to, is it really worth it? And speaking about liability, how much insurance is really required for... I know farmers typically have a ton of insurance just because of what we do, but are there any insurance requirements with the farm equipment or having the trucks on the road?

Anthony Lester (21:57):The farm exemption is going to expand into your insurance requirements for the state. For lack of better terms, the farms are not going to be subject to any of the insurance requirements in part 387 of FMCSA's guidelines. And then, those guidelines were actually adopted by the Public Utilities Commission. You're not subject to those either because you're within that exemption. Now, if you exceed that exemption as we talked about earlier, then you would be subject to part 387 if you go into interstate commerce for example. Or if you were hauling for hire, then you would be in the Public Utilities Commission's guidelines under the admin code.

Matt Adams (22:37):And that hauling for hire, Libby and I were discussing that before our podcast. So a scenario here. So I am a farmer, I have my own truck, I'm hauling for myself and I'm staying within my 150. I have a neighbor that says, "Hey, I'm behind, Matt. Can you start hauling for me to the elevator? I know you're getting caught up." Am I a for-hire carrier at that point?

Anthony Lester (22:59):Not in my opinion because when you work for that other farmer, you are under his control.

Matt Adams (23:04):Under his control, okay.

Anthony Lester (23:06):If you have somebody working for you and you're a farmer to and from the farm with ag operations, they share your exemption.

Matt Adams (23:14):Okay. That is some great information. I know that's something that's been brought up a lot, guys. Now if I go grab a weekend load to haul a flatbed of steel, then I'm a commercial carrier at that point.

Anthony Lester (23:25):Now you’ve got a problem.

Matt Adams (23:26):Got you. Perfect. Well, hey guys, it's been great information. We're going to take a quick break and we'll be right back here with some more of AgCredit Said It.

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Matt Adams (24:06):Hey, guys. And we're back here with AgCredit Said It. So we've covered some pretty good topics here. And another one I was thinking about too, Libby, and I'd say 90% of farmers have one. We talk about our side by sides, our utility vehicles. Can you guys go into, for one, I guess, what can I do with that side by side? I'm under the mentality of, "Hey, I'll toss an SMV on the back. It's a farm vehicle at that point. I can do what I want." Right?

Barry Thompson (24:39):Right. Yeah, there are some limited exemptions to those. They are an off-road vehicle. They're not titled as on-road vehicles. You can't license them to drive up and down the road like you can your automobile. There are some limited exemptions that they're allowed in a municipality or an area that has a speed limit of 35 miles an hour or less. That local jurisdiction can do an inspection on that vehicle if they allow them. And then you could get an actual license plate. But at that point, they can only be operated on those streets that are 35 mile an hour or less in that municipality that allows them. Now when we go to the farmer's side of it, it can be used as a farm tool, just like a tractor, just like a skid loader. But they're not used for normal transportation. They would have to be used going from field to field, from a short distance servicing that farm. So you couldn't just hop in it and go down to the local store and get your milk and come on back.

Matt Adams (25:33):Unless you have a shovel in the back, right?

Barry Thompson (25:34):Or go take your wife out to dinner or something. But it would just be farm machinery and they would fall into that same practice. If you're doing farm-related work, going from field to field, they would be allowed, but routinely they're not legal on the highway.

Matt Adams (25:49):Okay. Well Libby, next time your husband takes you for dinner no taking the gator anymore.

Libby Wixtead (25:53):Oh, man. We live too close to our village. Okay, so can we talk a little bit about when are guys required to have US DOT numbers or PUCO?

Anthony Lester (26:11):Yeah, I can chime in on that if you don't care. The DOT number is basically a census number. It's not going to be required unless you cross a state line. That's the main thing to remember there, and if you do need it and you do it, make sure and get the unified carrier registration to go with it. It's not valid without that. It's a good way of looking at it. The Public Utilities Commission and its numbering system, which is only for for-hire carriers intra-state, staying inside the state. So going back to our previous example, you're working with other farmers. As long as you're not doing anything outside that realm, you're never going to have to register and get a PUCO number. That system, it's set up basically to register the company with the state and show their insurance requirements to protect the commodities they haul. That's what it's there for.


(27:04):Well, farming is completely outside that realm. The only trouble you'll get into is if you've got the equipment, like a dump truck or something, and somebody wants to hire you to haul some gravel for a driveway or something like that, and you're acting outside that exemption, that's the thing to remember, stay within your wheelhouse, within your exemption, you won't have any problems.

Libby Wixtead (27:23):I just see that there's just so many crossovers of just, "Hey, can you do this for me?" And it just seems like that's where guys don't even realize that they're not within the requirements. I understand why we're so confused on what we're supposed to do, and what we're not supposed to do.

Anthony Lester (27:44):And a lot of guys and gals fall into it just trying to help a neighbor out or something. And they're not really doing anything nefarious. They have no ill intent whatsoever. But they happen to get out and something happens, they get stopped or god forbid there's a crash. If you're outside that exemption, then all rules would apply to you like a normal commercial carrier.

Matt Adams (28:03):One thing I was thinking too, I see a lot of neighbors have them and just a lot of farmers in general, everyone puts "not for hire" on the side of their trucks. Is that required?

Anthony Lester (28:13):No, it's not required. It's not. But here's the thing I will tell you. As enforcement personnel, when we're out on the road if we see a truck that doesn't have a name on it and we can't tell that it's a farm move, a lot of times we'll pull you over and chat with you a little bit to figure out exactly what you're doing. If you put "not for hire" on the side of the truck or "farm use," it does relay that information to us before we ever stop the vehicle that that's what you're doing because the road outside the window right here, if you've got 50 trucks that goes by and one guy or gal doesn't have a name on the truck, well that's a requirement in the state of Ohio, so we're going to stop you and take a look at it and see what's taking place.

Libby Wixtead (28:53):So I think the name of the game here is just to identify yourself and what you're doing and then you have less chance of having any issues.

Anthony Lester (29:03):Yeah. Sometimes it's easy to look at a vehicle and tell what's been done with it and then other times not so. I mean, if you got a three-axle Mack dump truck, how many of those are out there hauling for hire? Well, if you got 10 of them going out of a rock pit and one doesn't have a name on it, then we stop the truck. "Hey, who are you and what are you doing?" Well, in that circumstance, if you're picking that rock up, taking it back to the farm, well obviously, you're going to be covered under that exemption. But if you're doing something outside that, then there's where we have the problem.

Matt Adams (29:30):I was just thinking, I know we have an upcoming podcast episode they're going to be recording about branding your farm. That ties right into the name you can put on the side of your truck too. So a little topic there Miss Producer to keep your notes over there while you're running the board.

Anthony Lester (29:44):Yeah, but just remember you're not required to as a farm to put it on there. But I would encourage you to put the "not for hire" or the "farm use" is probably my favorite because that tells everybody right off the bat, "Hey, this is a farm truck. This is what we're doing."

Matt Adams (29:56):So we touched some on the overweight and what would be considered overweight when we get above our percentage and especially if we get out of our 150 miles. We're going to put a link here on our show notes guys too, on the booklet from the state patrol and the Ohio Motor Carriers. They have some great charts in there. We're looking at on our break that really explains very... And me too, I'm an account officer. They hire me because I got my pretty face here, the deal maker here, but it's a very, very easy chart to follow. I mean, it's a lot of great information. So we're going to put a link on that here for you guys. But we touched a little bit on the oversize permit and our farm exemption. When am I required to have an oversize permit? When does that get to the stage where I need to have a permit and start getting into the nitty gritty of that stuff?

Barry Thompson (31:01):Once you put that piece of equipment up on the trailer and it's wider than 8'6" or it's taller than 13'6", that's when the permits come in. While the wheels on that tractor or combine or sprayer are on the ground, you're exempt from permits, as soon as you put that on a trailer because we do know some farmers have fields way apart from each other and you drive that tractor 50 miles, you're burning a lot of fuel and time. Once you put that on that trailer, you then have to get a permit.


(31:29):And like Anthony was talking about earlier, the permit section's very easy to work with. You can get blanket permits. A lot of construction companies do that. They're going to be hauling the same dozer, the same pan over and over again. So if you know you're going to be hauling that combine or that sprayer to these certain places, you can get a blanket permit. Some of them are a single trip, and some of them are in 90 days. You could buy one and it's good for 90 days. Maybe you can buy one that's good for a whole year. But then, at that point, you're requiring the permit. You got to have your flags, you got to have your oversized load signs front and back and you fall into all those. So it's an easy process to get, but it's one some people don't get, and that can cause problems down the road.

Matt Adams (32:12):It's one of those, I think, as you said, it's an easy process. I'm sure it's designed to be easy to get. Don't take the, "Well, I'm only going 20 miles down the road, nobody's going to see me."

Anthony Lester (32:26):Well, and the thing about it now with technology, if you got a computer or a smartphone, you can set up those permits, get them electronically sent right to you. Stand right in the middle of a field. It's not like 30 years ago when somebody had to drive in and show proof of insurance. It can all be done remotely. The only thing to remember with those permits is that once you have one, you stay within the confines of that permit.

Matt Adams (32:47):Of that permit, yes.

Anthony Lester (32:48):Yes, absolutely. And the permit will come in the form of a provision known as an OS-1A. You want to read that form and apply those guidelines to your vehicle. That'll show you how to flag it, put the lights on it, what signs are required, and if you need an escort or not.

Matt Adams (33:05):Perfect.

Barry Thompson (33:06):And just before we leave that subject too quickly, just so people understand, that only covers you on state routes and interstate routes. So if you're on a township or a county road, that permit does not help you there. So you would have to check with your local county engineer's office, and your local township trustees, if they require permits. Some do, and some do not. So that only covers you on the state interstate route system.

Matt Adams (33:28):That is a great bit of information because I did not know that. I thought if I have a permit, I'm covered on any roadway. So make sure you check with the local engineers and I'm sure even the local sheriff's department could even give them some insight too on stuff like that.

Anthony Lester (33:43):Yeah, definitely. And the township trustees are good people that will let them know.

Matt Adams (33:48):So the next one, and I think this is probably something that keeps growing, especially with more and more producers having their trucks, hauling their own fertilizer, handling their own chemicals, having sprayer tenders. When we look at hazardous material and hauling that, first, I guess, what is considered a hazardous material because, in my mind, I'm thinking, "I have a fuel trailer at home. I'm carrying 700 gallons of fuel, and 400 gallons of diesel exhaust fluid. I got 30 gallons of hydraulic oil." When do we get into that realm of, "Hey, you're a hazardous transporter, at this point."

Anthony Lester (34:30):You could do a whole show on that one. The first thing I want to bring to everybody's attention, it's a wonderful little section called Materials of Trade. And you can Google that at any time. And basically, when you look up materials of trade, that's going to give you all nine of your hazmat classes and it's going to tell you the amounts that you're allowed to haul and not be regulated. A lot of people don't realize that's out there. If you stay within the confines of materials of trade, you're never going to need any of those guidelines. When you get into bulk amounts, placarded amounts of hazmat, you're moving outside that exemption here in Ohio.


(35:08):And I'll just run you a real quick example if you don't mind. We had a gentleman down our way that was running his own fuel truck to fuel the combines up and stuff out in the field. Now upon the inspection, once again, for no name on the truck, come to find out it's a farm move, so he is exempt from that and he's also exempt from the CDL. He's within these 150 air miles. Well, he's got a large tanker, so he's moving a bulk amount of diesel fuel. All the regulations would apply to him at that point. That's the thing you want to stay away from. You want to really study the products, the amounts that you want to move. If you're in doubt, have a common carrier haul that and deliver it for you. Don't step outside the guidelines on it if you're unsure or if you're not getting clear answers on things. Hazmat can get very complicated very quickly with a lot of liabilities behind it.

Libby Wixtead (35:56):Oh yeah.

Matt Adams (35:58):I can even think about too, we start anhydrous ammonia and pulling our tanks from the co-op to the field. Generally, they're pulled with a pickup, so when we look at that, is there anything that we need to abide by by hauling those from the co-op to the field?

Anthony Lester (36:17):No. There's some things in the guidelines that would protect you under those circumstances. For example, you're not subject to hazardous material permit training requirements. The specification of the tank is because those pressure tanks usually have a bunch of inspections got to be done on them. You're all protected from all that to and from the field moving from one farm to the other. You're all covered on that. When you'll get into a problem with that if you hook that up and you take it outside your normal working location, you take it in transit upon the roadway, then you're getting into the regulations because you're stepping outside what you can normally do.

Matt Adams (36:53):Got you.

Anthony Lester (36:54):And if you're moving it back and forth across the farm or from one location to another, you're good. It's when you take it in transit and you’ve got a placarded bulk package on a public roadway, then you’ve got problems.

Matt Adams (37:03):Got you. So I guess I just want to go back to the fuel thing. And just something that popped up in my mind, and I get these all the time, so some of these large tractors, I was in equipment sales for 11 years. We had some large four-wheel drive tractors that held a boatload of fuel.

Anthony Lester (37:21):Yeah, that's a struggle to keep those things.

Matt Adams (37:27):So where's that fall? Where's that cut-off? Or since it's onboard, it's part of that equipment, does that even really justify the large quantity of fuel?

Anthony Lester (37:35):Because it's tied into the fuel system of the tractor, then it would be exempt.

Matt Adams (37:39):Got you.

Anthony Lester (37:40):And as far as fueling those vehicles up, you want to stay under 118 gallons.

Matt Adams (37:44):Under 118.

Anthony Lester (37:44):Under 118 gallons of diesel fuel's a non-bulk package and it's exempt from the regulations. So in theory, you could have four or five drums in the back of your pickup at 55 gallons a piece and you'd be exempt from the regulations see, it all boils down to doing your homework ahead of time.

Matt Adams (38:01):Yes sir.

Anthony Lester (38:04):You see what I mean?

Matt Adams (38:05):Oh yeah. And I think probably we look at our fertilizers and chemicals, we have a lot of our chemicals that are labeled. So a lot of our farmers and producers have our sprayer tenders they've built and we have multiple different farm chemicals. There again, goes back to just doing your homework, researching what you got, and just following those guidelines.

Anthony Lester (38:26):Right, and I'll throw something out there on that. A lot of those chemicals are shipped in totes, square totes. Well, many times depending on the product that's placarded when you receive it, it's placarded in that form, at that mixture level. Once it's at the farm and you dilute it and you mix it, you're getting away from those placarding requirements because you've diluted that material. See, that's a good point to note. So say you have a common carrier come in with a load of a class eight material or six or whatever the case is, they bring that material in and you dilute it. Once you've diluted it, now it doesn't meet that placarding requirement. That's important stuff to know. But if you take it away from the farm in the same form that they brought it to you, and you'll notice the trucks that bring that material in there are placarded, then when you leave with it, you need to be too. Do you see what I mean?

Matt Adams (39:16):Yeah, yeah. This is some great information. I hope everybody out there listening, you better be taking notes. So go back and listen to us again if you miss stuff.

Anthony Lester (39:25):It all boils down to learning the stuff you need to run your operations. Get really good at what you do with no question marks, none. Get it all nailed down. If you change a product, if you change a load, you change a destination or a vendor, and do your homework. Just takes a few minutes, especially with electronics and things and guys like me and him running around, we're happy to help you.

Libby Wixtead (39:46):And I think a lot of guys are expanding their operations. A lot of smaller farms are going away and we're getting a lot of larger farmers. So I think they are going out of their realm a little bit more than what they're used to or what dad and grandpa did, so this is all great information.

Anthony Lester (40:03):We're seeing a lot of custom harvesting down our way that we never saw before and run into that. Everybody has just done their own, but we're actually starting to see it in my area now.

Matt Adams (40:13):So I just thought of one more question here, guys. Libby's just laughing at me over here. It was one I always thought of in equipment, we're operating our equipment, we covered our flashers, and how we need to be on the roads. There's also that pesky thing that I keep kicking off the side of the seat, that seatbelt. Do I have to wear that thing in the cab? I really don't, do I? Right?

Anthony Lester (40:36):I'm going to throw Sarge on this.

Barry Thompson (40:37):Yeah, a seatbelt needs to be worn. It's definitely a safety factor. Saves many lives and saves many injuries every year. So yeah, the seatbelt's a good thing and it's a requirement.

Matt Adams (40:49):And Sergeant, I guess I'm going to ask too. So when operating equipment, what does the age of that driver need to be?

Barry Thompson (40:57):Okay. So it depends on where you're at. You're talking about these commercial motor vehicles. You guys are exempt from CDL. Now when you're hauling an articulated vehicle, a semi, and you're going across state lines, you lose some of those exemptions, as Anthony said. Those people have to be 18 to drive that semi across state lines. A regular semi, a straight truck in Ohio, can be 16 to operate because you're not into that CDL. You lose that CDL exemption.

Matt Adams (41:24):As long as that 16-year-old has that valid driver's license.

Barry Thompson (41:28):Yes.

Matt Adams (41:28):Okay. What about driving the tractor and combine down the road?

Barry Thompson (41:32):Yeah, there is no age requirement for the farm machinery because it's not a car or a truck. So at that point in time, we talked earlier about different things that might be civilly liable or criminally liable. So criminally, you wouldn't be liable for having that 15-year-old driving that tractor because it doesn't require a driver's license. Now civilly, if he or she was in a crash and something happens and you get sued as the farmer and it gets brought up his age, his experience, his or her, whatever, then you have that different weight. So if you're going to have someone without a license operating the tractors and the combines, make sure they're very capable of operating those and understand the sheer volume of responsibility they're taking on and that in a critical incident or if something happens, they can handle themselves. That's the biggest thing there is, just that experience.

Matt Adams (42:25):Got you.

Libby Wixtead (42:26):Which most, I mean, farm kids, were driving stuff, I don't know, probably way too young than what they should be.

Matt Adams (42:33):Yeah. I don't want to tell you the first time I drove a truck with our officers here.

Anthony Lester (42:39):But you're exempt, right?

Matt Adams (42:40):That's right. That was in the field too, right?

Libby Wixtead (42:44):I guess too since we are talking with young beginning farmers, we talked about CDL a little bit, but I know there had been some changes in getting your CDL here, with renewing it and getting it, could you speak upon that? And just if somebody is thinking about if we do have some young FFA kids on here, how can they get their CDL?

Anthony Lester (43:07):FMCSA has implemented some guidelines that mandate a driver training school. Sarge can chime in with me. He knows a little bit more about this.

Matt Adams (43:14):So the days of the grandfathering in. I think when I did it... Oh gosh.

Anthony Lester (43:20):Yeah, it's unfortunate.

Matt Adams (43:21):Yeah, I think I had taken my permit and turned in a number of weight slips and stuff like that and passed my test, stuff like that. That's along the wayside now.

Anthony Lester (43:31):Right. To the best of my knowledge, it's all by the wayside. They're pushing everybody towards the driving schools and getting that certificate with the license. But remember, coming off the farm inside 150 air miles, you don't need it anyway. Just something to consider. And there may be some provisions I'm not aware of with the Farm and Ag on the CDL, but as far as standard CDL licenses and commercial motor vehicles, they do have to go through that school now. And I believe that was February of last year. You can correct me if I'm wrong.

Barry Thompson (43:59):Yeah, I think it's been about a year now that you have to have that accredited school you go through and there are a lot more restrictions with the CDL. So it used to be, you probably remember, you could go take that with a pickup truck and a trailer that met it, and then you can drive a semi. Nowadays, what you take that test in is what you're licensed to drive. So if you take it in an automatic semi, you can't drive a manual.

Matt Adams (44:20):You're restricted to an automatic.

Barry Thompson (44:22):If you take it in a pickup truck and a trailer, you couldn't drive something with a saddle mount, a semi. So it's much more restrictive than it used to be, just to make it safer. So we know that people can operate the vehicle they're licensed for. And then, as I said, they did add that requirement to actually get a school. You can't just borrow your buddy's truck and take your permit and go take it like you used to.

Matt Adams (44:45):And I know Libby, it just seems like a lot of our producers now, especially our younger guys, they're getting that CDL. For one, it justifies the expense of that rig and not only farm use, but now, hey, that's our off-farm income too. So great information to keep up and get out there, take your class, and get the CDL, because then you open yourself up to some opportunities. There's always somebody out there who needs something hauled.

Anthony Lester (45:08):Yeah, definitely. CDL drivers are very sought after.

Barry Thompson (45:10):Yes. I mean, that's a good point. We were talking earlier, Anthony and I, about how some farmers get themselves in trouble with, they've got a side business and they'll use their farm semi on their side business and well, on the farm, you're great, but as soon as you have that side business, if you're selling mulch, you're selling this or whatever else you're doing that's for hire now, that CDL and everything come into play.

Libby Wixtead (45:34):And I think farmers, they're entrepreneurs, so they're always thinking about, "What else can I do?" I mean, my husband is definitely that way. So it's like, "How else can I diversify the operation?" And then it's like, "I have a truck, and all right, let's just go do this."

Anthony Lester (45:49):That's the spirit of small business.

Barry Thompson (45:53):Yeah, but just take that extra step and get that operating authority and get that insurance and everything at that point, and then you're covered because you can use that truck using business on the farm and vice versa if you have everything covered. So just as you diversify and you look for ways to bring more income in, just cover yourself with the other requirements.

Matt Adams (46:12):Well, guys, this has been some great information, and I think we could go on for hours on this. So this might be a follow up, a part two and three episode going forward here.

Anthony Lester (46:22):Do one on side by sides and weights and measures.

Matt Adams (46:27):That's right. Kayla, our producer, will put notes out there and everything in for the information. But guys, just once again, people want more information on this stuff, where can they go?

Barry Thompson (46:38):Yeah. I mean, one thing is this truck driver's guidebook on the Ohio State Highway Patrol's website, which you guys said you would link to it.

Matt Adams (46:43):Yes.

Barry Thompson (46:44):You could always contact any highway patrol post, and they'll get you in touch with someone that can answer your questions. We love opportunities like this we're doing now to speak and answer for a large group of people, but if there's something in here that you're confused about or we didn't answer the question you're looking for, just Google Ohio State Highway Patrol, call the nearest one in your area, and the dispatcher will get you in touch with somebody. We'd love to talk to you and get you on the right track.

Anthony Lester (47:11):And the licensing commercial standards is what you want to direct your questions to.

Matt Adams (47:15):Okay.

Anthony Lester (47:16):They're spread out all through the state, and we try to take care of people when they call in, take care of their answers. Me and Sarge both spend a great deal of our time on the phone and doing research for people in our area.

Matt Adams (47:25):That is great. Well, Sergeant Thompson, and Supervisor Lester, I want to thank you guys once again for being part of our podcast today and want to, again, thank you for everything you guys do for us out there as the public taking care of us out there. I know it's a big job and there's a lot that falls on your guys' shoulders. So Libby, I think that about wraps it up for this one.

Libby Wixtead (47:46):Yes, don't forget to leave a review if you liked what you heard, and you guys can follow us on all of our social media platforms, and we'll catch you guys next time on AgCredit Said It.

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