The Iowa Corn Growers Association on October 3 issued a warning to Iowa farmers about the recently announced exemption that allows them to haul heavier than normal loads of grain on state highways this fall. There is a difference in this year's harvest weight exemption that puts farmers at risk of serious overweight fines.
What is causing confusion is something called the "10% rule" that is contained in the exemption that was issued by the State of Iowa on September 15. "This 10% rule is a new twist we haven't seen in previous harvest weight exemptions," says Tim Recker, ICGA president and a grower from Arlington. "The fines are serious – we are asking the media to get the word out as quickly as possible."
The source of the problem is a new clause in this year's state proclamation that has not been publicized. In practice, it gives growers hauling grain a variance up to 10% per axle or axle pair, rather than the widely reported 20,000 pound-per-axle exemption.
Some grain haulers are being fined
ICGA urges growers and other grain haulers who have any question about what's legal for their trucks to check the Iowa Department of Transportation's DOT reference chart (now available on the Iowa Corn website at www.iowacorn.org). Or call the Iowa Department of Transportation at 1-800-925-6469 to get clarification. According to the DOT, the 800 number will be active from 8:30 a.m. to noon and from 1 p.m. to 3:30, Monday through Friday.
"Our growers try hard to follow the rules," says Recker. "We don't want them to face fines because of new details that weren't spelled out clearly in this year's exemption."
This year, the harvest weight exemption is scheduled to run for 60 days from Sept. 15, which means it will expire at midnight on November 12. This temporary weight limit exemption allows grain trucks to haul up to 88,000 lbs. of grain on state highways in Iowa. This exemption does not apply to Interstate highways. And it does not change the lower weight limits as posted on bridges and overpasses on state highways. Also, haulers must follow the axel weight limits.
Growers can review the weight exemption proclamation on Governor Chet Culver's website at http://www.governor.iowa.gov/news/2007/09/attachments/14-harvest.pdf.