IFB appreciative of harvest season emergency declaration

Action allows farmers statewide to apply for a special permit that allows them to haul crops up to a maximum 10 percent over the standard weight restriction.

Gov. Bruce Rauner, second from right, discusses a harvest season emergency declaration Friday as Sangamon County farmers, state lawmakers, Illinois Farm Bureau leaders and state officials look on. (Photo by Kevin Semlow, IFB state legislative director)

By Kay Shipman

Gov. Bruce Rauner declared a 2018 harvest season emergency Friday, signing a declaration on the Brent and Blake Ladage farm near Auburn in Sangamon County.

Starting Monday, the governor’s action allows farmers statewide to apply for a special permit that allows up to a maximum 10 percent over the standard weight restriction. This marks the second consecutive year Rauner declared a harvest season emergency.

“We appreciate Gov. Rauner declaring an emergency harvest situation for the 2018 harvest season,” said Illinois Farm Bureau President Richard Guebert Jr. “It opens the door for increased efficiencies for farmers and truck drivers hauling agricultural commodities, allowing them to apply to the Illinois Department of Transportation to get a free permit to haul 10 percent over their gross vehicle weight and axle weight limits on state highways. 

“This consideration is especially helpful as 2018 has been a difficult year for Illinois farmers,” Guebert said. “They are facing declining incomes, market turmoil due to trade uncertainty, and what is likely to be a record-breaking crop that must be harvested and transported efficiently.”

The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) will issue a free harvest season permit through Dec. 31. In initial conversations with IDOT officials, they said farmers need to visit IDOT’s ITAP website to apply for a permit for each vehicle and must specify the route that will be traveled. Each state permit will need to be updated every two weeks with a revised route authorization.

Farmers must apply to IDOT for harvest season emergency permits on state routes. Harvest emergency permits are not available for interstate highways.

Farmers need to check with local jurisdictions on what will be required on their roads. Local jurisdictions may allow or disallow trucks to operate at higher weights on their roads. For county routes, check with the county engineer. Contact the highway commissioner for road district roads and the street department regarding municipal roads.

Local jurisdictions have an option to waive a requirement for a written permit; IDOT does not.

Farmers must carry a copy of the governor’s harvest season emergency proclamation and the route authorization in each overweight vehicle. The IDOT harvest season emergency permit and biweekly route authorization may be carried electronically on a smartphone or tablet.

A harvest season emergency permit offers provisions that don’t normally apply to other overweight permits. For 2018, a gubernatorial declaration was required. Starting next year, no declaration will be necessary under legislation Rauner recently signed.

Related: Visit this link for more harvest news

A harvest season emergency permit allows gross weight overages for a divisible load and allows the vehicle’s weight to exceed its registered/license plate weight.

The permit addresses gross, axle and registered weight restrictions. In each case, a permit may allow up to a maximum of 10 percent over the standard weight restriction. Any jurisdiction may also issue a permit for less than 10 percent above the standard limit.

For example, a single axle is typically allowed up to 20,000 pounds. A harvest emergency permit could allow up to 22,000 pounds on that axle. If the truck is registered/license plated to carry 80,000 pounds, a permit could allow it to carry up to 88,000 pounds.

Farmers can still apply for an overweight axle permit for the harvest season. However, that permit does not allow extra gross weight – only extra axle weigh.

“The Illinois Farm Bureau thanks Gov. Rauner for declaring an emergency harvest situation to help offset the uncontrollable effects of weather and commodity markets on Illinois’ farmers,” Guebert said. “By making this declaration, the governor is demonstrating he understands the challenges farmers are facing and the importance of an efficient fall harvest.”