The Drought of 2012 continues to hit some of the nation's most important agricultural regions especially hard, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, with more than seven-eighths of the nation's corn (89%) and soybeans (88%) considered to be within an area experiencing drought. In addition, 73% of the nation's domestic cattle inventory is within an area experiencing drought conditions, and 66% of the U.S. hay acreage is being affected by drought.
In response, last week, the governors of Iowa, Kansas and Missouri suspended certain trucking regulations for truckers involved in delivering feed to livestock in drought-stricken areas.
The Iowa proclamation, effective for 60 days, suspends state laws and regulations affecting the transport of hay, straw and stover. This allows for loads up to 90,000 pounds without a permit on non-Interstate roadways, although specific axle weight limits still apply. Overwidth loads up to 12 feet, 5 inches wide will be allowed on all highways as long as they're not more than 80,000 pounds, daylight only. In addition, driver hours-of-service regulations for these efforts are suspended, but certain rest periods must be provided. More info at www.iowa.dot.gov.
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback issued an executive order that applies to motor carriers hauling hay to livestock in drought-stricken areas in Kanas, Texas or Oklahoma. They've suspended certain rules on permits, load sizes and nighttime travel of oversized loads.
The Missouri DOT announced it will allow heavier than normal loads of corn and other crop silage and baleage to be hauled on selected Missouri highways. Private and for-hire motor carriers may carry up to 10% more than their licensed weight, however, the heavier loads are not allowed to use Interstate routes or national defense highway routes. Overweight permits are not required for these slightly overweight loads. All other traffic and motor carrier regulations that normally apply remain in place. This waiver is in effect until noon Friday, August 31. For more information: www.modot.org
Meanwhile, extreme heat and drought is causing highways in some areas to crack and buckle.
The drought also has pushed soybean prices 25% higher since early June, topping records set in 2008. This is affecting biodiesel production and prices, reports truckstop group NATSO.