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Understanding Farm Exemptions
4 mins read

SEPTEMBER 21, 2017 – Questions about farm exemptions come up frequently on the Foley blog. So after a reader suggested that we write an article on federal farming exemptions, we thought it would be a good idea to shed some light on this important topic.

What is a Covered Farm Vehicle (CFV)?

According to the FMCSA’s definition, a farm vehicle is one that is:

  • Registered in a state with a license plate that identifies it as a farm vehicle
  • Operated by an owner-operator of a farm, or by a family member or employee of the owner-operator
  • Transporting agricultural products, livestock, farm machinery or supplies to or from a farm
  • Not used in for-hire motor carrier operations
  • Not transporting hazardous materials that require placarding

*See regulation Part 390.5 for the full definition

As long as the vehicle a farmer operates conforms with the FMCSA’s CFV description, AND he or she stays within 150 air miles of the farm the vehicle is based, farmers are exempt from the regulations described below.

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ELD/Hours of Service Exemptions

Farmers are exempt from many of the hours of services requirements described in regulation Part 395, including maintaining detailed paper logs and the upcoming ELD mandate. But be sure to keep in mind:

  • Once a driver goes beyond that 150 air-mile radius, paper logs must be maintained. Now as long as this is not a regular occurrence – meaning this doesn’t occur more than 8 days during a 30-day time period – the truck won’t need to be equipped with an ELD.
  • For example: Johnny Farmer travels 300 miles twice per month. He is beyond the 150 air-mile radius for four days during the month. Although he has to maintain paper logs for those trips, he is NOT required to equip his vehicle with an ELD.

*See ELD Hours-of-Service & Agricultural Exemptions for a complete list of exemptions and further details.

CDL Exemptions

Regulation Part 383 requires CDLs when the vehicle being operated exceeds 26,001 pounds; however, farmers are not required to obtain a CDL provided they never travel beyond 150 air miles and out of the state where the farm vehicle is based.

Drug & Alcohol Testing Exemptions

Because drivers who operate vehicles that exceed 26,001 pounds are required to obtain CDLs, they are also subject to the drug and alcohol testing requirements described in regulation Part 382. But since farmers are exempt from the CDL regulations, they are also exempt from the drug and alcohol testing regulations. As indicated above, however, if a farmer travels beyond the 150 air-mile radius and into another state, he’s then required to obtain a CDL and comply with the drug and alcohol testing regulations.

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DOT Physical Examinations & Driver Qualification Files

Farmers are exempt from all the requirements described in regulation Part 391 EXCEPT for the section that prohibits the use of handheld devices and texting while operating. This includes the medical evaluation and certification requirement.

Vehicle Inspection, Repair & Maintenance

Although farmers are exempt from all the requirements described in regulation Part 396, it’s a good idea to make sure the farm vehicle being operated is safe to be on the road by performing regular inspections and making repairs as needed.

Questions or concerns? Leave them in the comments section below!

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