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Montana AG Network: Bullock order aims to help sugar beet farmers

Order allows increased weight limitations on transportation vehicles
Posted: 3:49 PM, Oct 10, 2019
Updated: 2019-10-11 11:25:11-04
sugar beet harvest.jpg

GREAT FALLS — Governor Steve Bullock on Wednesday signed an executive order allowing increased weight limitations on transportation vehicles that he says will help sugar beet farmers in Montana.

The agricultural industry, in the middle of sugar beet harvest season, has experienced early winter storm conditions that are affecting current harvesting operations, according to a news release from Bullock's office.

The executive order allows a temporary increase in gross vehicle weight tolerance for sugar beet farm vehicles from 20% for each axle to 30% during this harvest season, effective through November 30, 2019.

Montana producers face potential losses if their crops remain un-harvested due to unfavorable weather conditions. The executive order will allow these producers to move product in order to ensure a successful harvest.

“Montana’s farmers and workers got dealt a bad hand during this harvesting season with early winter storms,” Bullock said in the news release. “As our producers work hard around the clock, we need to make sure we have their backs in order to get beets on trucks and ensure that Montana ag remains a backbone of our economy.”

Here is the complete text of the order:

WHEREAS, Montana’s agricultural industry has experienced early winter storm conditions including extensive precipitation directly affecting the current harvest operations;

WHEREAS, the agricultural industry in Montana is in the middle of sugar beet harvest season and there remains a vast number of acres to be harvested;

WHEREAS, Montana law sets gross weight limitations for farm vehicles and imposes penalties for violations of the statutory limits, § 61-10-144, MCA;

WHEREAS, Montana producers face considerable potential losses if their crops remain unharvested due to unfavorable weather conditions during the limited harvest season;

WHEREAS, under § 61-10-111, MCA, upon a request by the Director of the Department of Agriculture, the Governor may exempt vehicles from the statutory size and weight limits for a specific, limited period of time during emergency circumstances and to meet unusual conditions to ensure the welfare of the public;

WHEREAS, in order to respond to these conditions, the Director of the Department of Agriculture has requested a temporary increase in the gross vehicle weight tolerance for sugar beet farm vehicles under § 61-10-144(3), MCA, from 20 percent for each axle to 30 percent during beet harvest season.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, STEVE BULLOCK, Governor of the State of Montana, by virtue of the authority vested in me under the Constitution and the laws of the State of Montana, § 61-10-111, MCA, and other applicable statutes do hereby exempt farm vehicles carrying sugar beets from harvested fields in Montana from the 20 percent limits of § 61-10-144, MCA, and authorize them to operate their vehicles without incurring excess weight penalties under § 61-10-145, MCA, if the total gross weight of the farm vehicle or combination of vehicles does not exceed allowable weight limitations by more than 30 percent for each axle.

This exemption shall be in effect through November 30, 2019. All other applicable laws and regulations remain in effect.