Amid budget debates and farm bill negotiations, Congress managed to pass a $100 billion transportation bill that will be spent on highway, mass transit and other transportation programs over the next two years.
American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) Transportation Specialist Andrew Walmsley said the bottom line is good for U.S. agriculture in an AFBF Newsline report.
“[Congress] knew that they had to get something done and, if they didn’t, a lot of people would be out of work,” Walmsley said. “The folks that supported the federal government to fund those projects have something to take back to their districts and say, ‘Look we put people back to work; we’re paving the roads; we’re improving the infrastructure that everyone needs for commerce to function.’”
The 27-month bill allows transportation projects to keep rolling until September 2014. The bill included an important fix for farmers and ranchers. They will be exempt from several federal regulations that made it difficult for them to transport their products.
“Those farmers and ranchers that are using a farm vehicle to haul their calves or their produce to market were exempt from some requirements that were meant for long-haul truckers and commercial truck drivers. Commercial driver’s license, medical certificates, hours of service requirements, pre- and post-trip inspections were all included,” Walmsley said.
Late last week, the Democratic-led Senate passed the measure with a 74-19 vote, just minutes after the Republican-run House approved it, 373-52.