A Colorado disaster emergency was declared on Aug. 22 by Gov. Bill Ritter to help farmers transport wheat from farm to market.
As a result, some motor carrier registration requirements were temporarily suspended to compensate for a shortfall of commercial vehicles jeopardizing the ability of growers to move wheat to market.
The executive order suspends for 45 days restrictions on hiring of farm-plate vehicles to transport raw agricultural product to railroad loading points or other markets in the state.
Executive Order D 020 07 does not do the following:
- Exempt any carriers from size and weight requirements.
- Exempt any carriers form state or federal safety regulations.
- Exempt any drivers from state or federal commercial driver's license requirements.
This season, Colorado farmers are experiencing the largest wheat harvest in a decade, double last year's level with more than 87 million bushels harvested. However, since several trucking and rail carriers formerly serving farm markets have closed in recent years due to drought, low commodity prices or high fuel costs, there is a lack of transportation.
Current Colorado law provides that farm-plated vehicles may only be used to transport raw farm products actually produced by a farmer, or commodities purchased by a farmer for personal use.
Under the order, farm-plated vehicles such as these may now be used as commercial haulers of farm products.
Due to the transportation shortage, more than 10 million bushels of wheat sits on the ground awaiting haulers. At current market prices, this is a $60 million inventory.
Ground moisture will deteriorate such wheat quickly if it is not hauled away soon.
"If this transportation need is not quickly met, Colorado wheat farmers will suffer a substantial loss of their wheat crop which will adversely impact Colorado's economy," says Colorado Agricultural Commissioner John Stulp.
"One means of easing this transportation shortage is to allow farm-plated vehicles to be hired to meet this shortfall." The emergency is expected to be greatest in September when the Colorado wheat harvest is in full swing.