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What You Need to Know About Transporting Diesel

In an effort to clarify the transportation regulations that farmers must follow, Successful Farming magazine published an article titled “Transportation Tips” in the April 2016 issue. One portion of the article covered the specific regulations for farmers transporting diesel.

Unfortunately, transportation experts have different interpretations of the hazardous materials (hazmat) regulations that apply to farmers, specifically the Code of Federal Regulations Title 49, section 173.5.

The first interpretation is that farmers are not subject to any of the hazmat regulations as long as the agriculture product, in this case diesel fuel, is transported over local roads between fields of the same farm.

The second explanation, which was included in the magazine article, adds one additional caveat to the first interpretation: that the diesel needs to be in containers smaller than 502 gallons.

Under this interpretation, farmers with diesel trailers that haul 502-plus gallons would need to register with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Administration, complete annual inspections, obtain medical examiner’s certificates, and have a CDL.

To determine which interpretation was correct, a request for clarification was sent to the DOT.

The final clarification came through at the end of August and, thankfully for farmers, the DOT agrees with the first interpretation.

This means that there are no limits to the size of the diesel container, as long as:

  1. It is transported by a farmer who is an intrastate private motor carrier.
  2. The movement of the container does not break any state laws.
  3. The diesel is only moved over local roads between fields of the same farm.

For example, a farmer with a 990-gallon diesel trailer could drive from his farm to one of his fields to fill up a combine and would not be subject to any of the hazmat regulations. However, a farmer that drives that same trailer to a repair shop that isn’t along a direct route between his farm and fields would not be exempt if his trailer were larger than 502 gallons. The 502-gallon limitation to the hazmat exemption kicks in when a farmer is not traveling on roads between his fields. In addition, these exemptions do not extend to interstate or restricted-access highways and only apply in a farmer’s home state within a 150-mile radius of the home farm.

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