The Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA), the Agricultural and Food Transporters Conference (AFTC) of the American Trucking Associations, the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC) and The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) applaud the work of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for passage of the "American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act of 2012," which provides for a five year, $260 billion authorization for the surface transportation program.
A critical section included in the proposal is the Hours of Service (HOS) agricultural exemption bill (H.R. 3265) sponsored by Reps. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) and Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.).
The Graves-Luetkemeyer proposal provides for a technical clarification of the HOS agricultural exemption that will help ensure the timely movement of farm supplies throughout the distribution supply chain.
"ARA is pleased this legislation includes language that provides a permanent fix to the HOS agricultural exemption problems industry has experienced with federal and state DOT enforcement officials", said ARA President & CEO Daren Coppock.
"We are grateful to Chairman Mica, Rep. Graves, and Rep. Luetkemeyer for their efforts on this important issue, which if enacted, will help our members more efficiently provide farmers with the products they need at critical times of the year."
"The agricultural exemption to the HOS rule is a crucial tool for transporters of agricultural products during the busiest times of the year," said AFTC Chairman, John Whittington. "We commend the work of Chairman Mica and Congressmen Luetkemeyer and Graves for their work on moving this language one step closer towards enactment."
It is the agriculture industry's understanding that the American Energy and Infrastructure Act looks similar to current surface transportation programs, and also similar to a surface title approved in the Senate.
"This legislation will ensure that farmer co-ops can continue to provide their producer-owners and other customers with farm supplies in a timely and efficient manner," said NCFC President & CEO of Chuck Conner. "We appreciate the action of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to bring a resolution to this issue."
"Applying crop nutrients at the right time is essential for producing healthy crops and protecting the environment," said TFI President Ford B. West. "TFI is appreciative of Rep. Graves and Rep. Luetkemeyer's efforts to include the hours of service agricultural exemption in the surface transportation program.
"Passage of this bill ensures that TFI's retailer members will be able provide farmers throughout the country with vital crop nutrients during the upcoming spring planting season."