Indiana Governor Mike Pence gathered with state ag leaders and the Indiana FFA for the signing of two agriculture bills passed by the Indiana General Assembly. Unlike many new laws which impose new rules and regulations, these bills cut red tape and requirements for farmers and farming operations. Pence said this will help make Indiana agriculture more competitive, “These bills clear federal regulations and make it easier for transportation to interact with agriculture, leveling the playing field between Indiana and some of our surrounding states in regards to transpiration permitting.” Pence thanked the General Assembly for bringing these bills forward, which will keep agriculture as a centerpiece of Indiana’s economic growth.
House Bill 1068 exempts drivers of farm-plated vehicles from several requirements imposed on commercial vehicle drivers. Sponsored by Rep. Cherry, R-Greenfield, and Sen. Randy Head, R-Logansport, the law exempts the drivers of farm-plated vehicles in Indiana from federal hours of service and medical card requirements. The comprehensive 2012 federal transportation law known as MAP-21 provides for these exemptions, but states were required to pass legislation to allow their farmers to take immediate advantage of them. This bill satisfies the federal requirement and is effective immediately. Bill 1481 relaxes weight restrictions on bulk milk and grain haulers. Sponsored by Rep. Hal Slager, R-Schererville, and Sen. Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso, it authorizes INDOT or a local authority to grant permits for the transportation of overweight divisible loads. A divisible load is one that could be split between two trucks, but, for economic reasons, the trucker prefers not to divide it. The major beneficiaries of these permits are bulk milk haulers and grain haulers who bring loads originating in Ohio or Michigan into Northeastern Indiana. The maximum limit for divisible loads of agricultural commodities is 97,000 pounds.
The bills signed on Thursday were not the first ag bills signed by the governor. The bill that stopped the implementation of the soil fertility tax assessment formula was actually the first bill signed by Pence as governor back in late March. Pence was joined by Lt. Governor Ellspermann, ISDA Director Gina Sheets, and the Indiana FFA state officer team at the Pioneer Village at the Indiana State Fairgrounds on Thursday morning.
After the bill signing, the governor spoke with HAT about the progress in Washington on the Farm Bill. Pence said he is watching the developments on Capitol Hill, “The kind of red tape coming out of Washington, especially from the EPA, is a real concern for Indiana farmers. Our administration is committed to working with our Hoosier Congressional delegation to be an advocate for agriculture whether it is the Farm Bill or the policies of the Obama administration.” Pence said he was also encouraged by the progress that was being made in Washington on immigration reform, especially as it applies to agriculture.