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What is the Truth?

Written by Dennis Sun

Every now and then, and for the past two years it’s happened almost weekly, we hear something come out of Washington, D.C. that leaves us scratching our heads or that just makes us madder than heck.

After two years of scratching our heads raw, and having given up on staying mad all the time, we now just shake our heads in disbelief and wonder what’s next, and we wonder what the truth really is after hearing all the spin coming from Washington. In reality, all bad news has the greatest frosting on it these days.  

Such was the case in late May when the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) proposed a rule change for farm equipment, and if it had been allowed to take effect it would have placed significant costs and hardships on ranchers and farmers. One of the requirements would have required a Commercial Drivers License (CDL) to haul a trailer load of livestock to the auction barn if it was over 150 miles away, and some said it would be required to even operate a tractor on the farm or ranch. It was just more regulation by legislation, which seems to be really popular in Washington these days.

After a summer of ag organizations going ballistic, and hundreds upon hundreds of comments from ag folks up and down the country roads, on Aug. 10 the DOT issued a statement saying, “No regulations will be proposed for any new safety requirements or changes to the rules.” The Secretary of Transportation also issued a statement, saying, “We have no intention of instituting onerous regulations on the hardworking farmers who feed our country and fuel our economy. Farmers deserve to know that reasonable, common sense exemptions will continue to be consistently available to agricultural operations across the country, and that’s why we released this guidance.”

After hearing all the outrage and reading the comments, the FMCSA said they initiated this review to “make sure states don’t go overboard in enforcing regulations on agricultural operators and to ensure consistent access to exemptions for farmers.” Now, please, put the Roundup down before you have to throw up. The agency (DOT) also released guidance designed to make sure states clearly understood the common sense exemptions that allow farmers, their employees and their families to accomplish their day-to-day work and to transport their products to market.

Some say all of this was just business as usual, with the agency reviewing the exemptions while the “right-wing media” blew it out of proportion. Well, I think we reported it because it was so outrageous and costly to agriculture that it was news. If we caused people to write comments or express opposition to the review, we are proud to be labeled “right-wing media.”

They go on to say that the so-called right-wing media spread misinformation, and did it on purpose. I don’t know about the misinformation part, but we did spread it on purpose. Our readers deserve it. So hang on, there will be lots more before the 2012 election is over, but now they know: don’t mess with farmers and ranchers.

Dennis