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Ag Coalition Backing Original IoH Legislation
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 03/11/2014

A group of Wisconsin farm organizations are continuing to support the original Implements of Husbandry bill pending in the state legislature, despite an attempt by some lawmakers to approve a more temporary version of the measure. This week, a coalition of ag groups wrote to members of the state Senate urging them to vote for SB 509. That's the bill being authored by Sen. Jerry Petrowski and Rep. Keith Ripp that would extend the weight limits on large farm equipment on rural roads as long as they first obtain a special permit from their local government units.

According to a press release issued on Monday, the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation, Wisconsin Farmers Union, Wisconsin Cattlemen's Association, Wisconsin Soybean Association, Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association, Wisconsin Pork Association and the Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association are all backing SB 509, as well as its companion bill AB 648 in the Assembly.

"This bill is our top priority before the legislative session ends and spring planting begins," said WFBF Government Relations Director Paul Zimmerman. "We believe it is imperative that farmers have the ability to operate their equipment on our roadways legally and safely without fear of law enforcement action. This bill gives farm families that assurance."

WFU President Darin Von Ruden says cuts in state funding for town and county roads mean rural municipalities need to do all they can to preserve their infrastructure. He feels the original bill strikes a balance to allow farmers the access they need while protecting roads and bridges.

"A number of our members are not only farmers, but also town and county board members," Von Ruden said. "They understand the need to get farm equipment down the road, but they also understand that we need to protect our investments in local roads."

SB 509 was approved by the Senate Committee on Transportation on a 5-0 vote last Thursday and is scheduled to be voted on by the full Senate today.

Last week, Rep. Joan Ballweg and three other GOP lawmakers proposed their own measure that would establish an 18-month moratorium on the enforcement of weight limits on large agricultural equipment on public roads. Their motive was to buy more time for legislators to study the issue further and address concerns from those who feel the permitting process will be too cumbersome.

Groups supporting that proposal include the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, Dairy Business Association, Cooperative Network, Farm Equipment Manufacturers Association, Midwest Equipment Dealers Association, Midwest Food Processors Association, Wisconsin Agri-Business Association, Wisconsin Agribusiness Council, and Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce.

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