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Assembly OKs keeping machinery legally on the road
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Farm groups are applauding the Wisconsin State Assembly for passing a bill that allows farmers to legally operate their farm machinery on roadways this year.

By an 82-11 vote the State Assembly approved Senate Bill 509, authored by state Sen. Jerry Petrowski (R-Marathon) and state Rep. Keith Ripp (R-Lodi), on March 21.

SB 509 was introduced to update Wisconsin’s antiquated laws concerning farm machinery. It clarifies the definition of what qualifies as an implement of husbandry (IOH). It creates a new definition for agricultural commercial motor vehicles. It establishes size parameters and lighting requirements for farm machinery operated on roadways. It increases weight limits by 15 percent for IOH. It increases axel weight limits from 20,000 to 23,000, and total gross vehicle weight from 80,000 to 92,000 pounds.

The Assembly has amended the bill, previously approved by the State Senate, to change weight requirements and a permitting process for towns and counties. For tillage, planting and harvesting equipment, state law will allow these IOH to be over 23,000 pounds per axle weight. It should be noted that towns and counties have the authority to adopt a resolution or an ordinance to establish a local permitting process to issue no-fee permits for approved routes for tillage, planting and harvesting equipment.

The legislation is the result of discussions between legislators, the Wisconsin Counties Association, Wisconsin Towns Association, and agricultural organizations. Farm groups in support of Senate Bill 509 are the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation, Wisconsin Cattlemen’s Association, Wisconsin Soybean Association, Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association, Wisconsin Pork Association and the Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association.

Since SB 509 was amended by the State Assembly, it heads back to the State Senate for final approval. This could happen April 1.

“Passing IOH legislation remains the top priority of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau before the spring planting season begins next month,” said Paul Zimmerman, Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation’s Executive Director of Governmental Relations. “Farmers need to be able to legally drive their farm equipment to their fields to plant this year’s crops.  The Farm Bureau is pleased that the Legislature is working diligently to accomplish this.”