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State Senators Approve Implements of Husbandry Bill
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 03/12/2014

The Wisconsin State Senate approved SB509 on a voice vote on Tuesday afternoon. Known as the original implements of husbandry proposal, the bill aims to standardize the rules farm equipment operators must follow when driving larger implements on roads and highways.

Sponsored by Sen. Jerry Petrowski of Marathon and Rep. Keith Ripp from Lodi, the measure would extend equipment weight limits from a maximum single axle weight of 20,000 pounds to 23,000 pounds; and the maximum gross vehicle weight would go from 80,000 pounds to 92,000 pounds--except where posted and during periods of spring thaw. Anytime an operator would need to exceed those limits for necessary farm use, they would be required to get a 12-month permit from their local town, county or state. That unit of government would not be able to deny permits unless there was scientific reason not to issue them. They do, however, have the right to designate a specific route that the operator must take to get from the farm to the final destination.

"The final IoH bill represents a balanced and responsible approach that will allow farmers to legally operate their oversized equipment on Wisconsin's roads, while providing modern standards for public safety and protecting the taxpayers' investment in those roads and bridges," said Sen. Petrowski.

Supporters of the change say current regulations for larger vehicles, which were drafted in the 1960s, could be enforced on farm equipment today. And that means the heavier tillage and manure handing rigs used on many Wisconsin farms would not be allowed on the road legally.

The issue of updating IoH standards began when several custom manure haulers in Marathon County were told by local law enforcement in 2011 that their equipment was too heavy for the roadways. Many counties and local townships have also begun cracking down on weight limit violators because they have less money in their budgets to repair roads and bridges.

Meanwhile, SB509 does not require permits for larger height and width instances, but the operator must abide by certain rules. For example, if an implement is traveling more than a half-mile down the road and if its width is greater than 16-feet, the machine must be equipped with reflectors and reflective tape. Equipment that measures at least 20-feet wide must be accompanied with an escort vehicle with flashing lights. There is no regulatory height for equipment, but it is the operator's responsibility to make sure their machine does not exceed the height of powers lines, bridges or other objects.

And the policy would create a 60-foot length limit for a single machine and a 100-foot limit for combinations of two IoH. For combinations of three IoH the limit is 70 feet, but a three IoH combination may operate at lengths exceeding 70 feet, to a limit of 100 feet, as long as their speed does not exceed 20 miles per hour.

Petrowski says towns and counties have the choice to opt out of the process, which means local implements would be free to travel the roads without permits if they exceed the weight limits. Track-driven machines and implements with floatation tires would still not be made legal under the legislation.

The companion bill is still pending in the Assembly.

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