SENECA FALLS, N.Y. — If you ship goods with your farm’s vehicles and trailers, it’s vital to understand the legal aspects of agricultural transportation.
Adrian Armpriester, intermodal transportation specialist with the New York State Department of Transportation Region 3 in Syracuse, presented on the topic at the recent Empire Farm Days.
He said that a common mistake many operators make is that they don’t properly cover loads.
“If your cargo goes above the bed rails, you need straps, a cover or to have equipment bolted or tied down,” Armpriester said.
He said that changes in farm vehicle laws nationally and in New York, effective July 11, 2016, redefine the term “farm vehicle” to “covered farm vehicle” and include a “covered farm vehicle” or CFV-1 designation requirement.
“It opts out of regulations like weight inspections and hours of operation,” Armpriester said.
To apply as a farm vehicle, farmers need a CFV-1 form, available online or at a local Department of Motor Vehicles.
“You have to identify the vehicle, print the form, fill it out, and keep it with the registration,” Armpriester said. “Any plate with CFV-1 on it gives the vehicle leeway.”
To qualify, the farmer, family members or employees must be the only operators of the vehicle, which is used to haul animals, supplies, equipment or agricultural commodities.
Armpriester said that if farmers use the vehicle for hire to transport others’ goods, “you lose that designation. It is only for your farm operation. You can be paid for transporting your own stuff, but if someone else pays you to transport their goods, that’s different.”
Hauling for hire isn’t permitted. Users cannot transport hazardous materials under this designation, either.
Armpriester said that many New York farmers don’t understand the weight limits for a truck hauling a trailer.
“If my truck is over 26,000 pounds, I’d need a CDL-B,” he said. “Or, if it’s 26,000 pounds total truck and trailer or more, that may be operated in New York only and within 150 miles of the farm.”
Trailers don’t count into the total weight unless they’re over 10,000 pounds. The weight of the truck is determined by the gross vehicle weight rating, commonly found printed on a tag inside the driver’s door.
“That’s where we start and we go heavier from there,” Armpriester said. “A trailer over 10,000 pounds will affect licensing. If you load it heavier, that affects it.”
Providing a covered farm vehicle weighs less than 26,000 pounds, farmers may operate it in New York and elsewhere as long as the state approves of the CFV-1 designation. But farm vehicles with a FARM plate may be driven only within 25 miles of the farm, such as to transport equipment to a field.
For farm vehicles over 26,000 pounds with a F or G endorsement, the CFV-1 proves the farmer is exempt from the requirement of a CDL to operate a covered farm vehicle and a copy of the CFV-1 should be stored in each such vehicle the farm operates. These vehicles must stay within New York and 150 miles of the farm.
In addition to lifting the requirement for a CDL and logging the hours of operation, the CFV-1 also exempts farmers from documenting medical certification, drug testing and inspection requirements, although state requirements still apply.
Armpriester warned that farmers who upgrade their trucks often aren’t aware that the vehicle weight may increase, even if they purchase a newer version of the same make and model.
“You can go to the manufacturer and they can give you a new data tag if you’re on the edge,” he said.
Farmers often use their trailers for a variety of reasons. Using farm equipment to haul for hobbies — such as a tractor to a tractor pull — doesn’t qualify for the CFV-1, “even if you win prize money,” Armpriester said.
If farmers are also hauling equipment to sell at such an event, that may qualify their use under the CFV-1.
Ampriester said that in general, “Pennsylvania doesn’t accept our regulatory laws” for farm vehicles and to remain in compliance, operators should purchase a temporary registration from Pennsylvania for trips into the Keystone State.
Armpriester also warned attendees about vehicle registration scams.
“A lot of private companies send scare tactic letters or emails that say you’re not compliant,” he said. “If you get an email from us, it will have ‘dot.ny.gov’ at the end of it.”
People receiving letters or emails should also directly contact the New York Department of Transportation by calling a phone number listed at dot.ny.gov/divisions, not a number listed on an email or letter.
Rodman Lot and Son Farms hosts the three-day ag expo, Empire Farm Days, every year. This year it ran Aug. 6-8.
Deborah Jeanne Sergeant is a freelance writer in central New York. Email her at email@example.com.