Norwich Bulletin: Dairy Farmers Celebrate New Weight Exemption For Milk Trucks
January 19, 2016
In The News
Dairy farmers have reason to be happy after a change in federal law that lets states issue weight exemptions for dairy trucks, allowing them to haul milk at full capacity.
The new weight exemption will allow haulers to transport the same volume of fluid milk in four full milk trucks compared to the five partially filled milk trucks used to meet existing weight restrictions on Connecticut roads.
Dairy farmers like Lincoln Chesmer of Lebanon said there’s a weight limit of about 80,000 pounds per load shipped currently, while in surrounding states the limit is 90,000 to 100,000 pounds. Smaller loads require more trips and increase the cost of the final product, Chesmer said.
Chesmer operates the 950-acre Graywall Farms in Lebanon, which has 600 cows and produces 47,000 pounds of milk daily for the Farmer’s Cow brand of products sold in Connecticut.
“It’s a very good change for us,” he said Tuesday. “It allows us to haul loads more efficiently and puts us on an even playing field with surrounding states that have a higher limit.”
Chesmer said the exemption only applies to liquid dairy cargo such as milk, although attempts were made to include other forms of cargo, such as grain.
The change was backed by Connecticut’s Congressional delegation, including Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District.
“I was very pleased that we were able to get this important change for our dairy farmers included in the federal transportation bill last month,” Courtney said.
In his role as a co-chairman of the Congressional Dairy Caucus, Courtney said he advocated on behalf of small- and medium-sized dairy farmers who expressed a need to change the law, which prevented them from fully using the container space in their milk trucks.
“Simply allowing our dairy farmers to fill their current milk hauling trucks to full capacity will save them both time and money, and prevent the need for additional trucks on our roadways,” Courtney said.
The change was added by U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-5th District, into a larger five-year, $305 billion transportation bill called the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, which President Obama signed into law Dec. 4. It allows states to issue special weight permits specific to bulk milk haulers.
U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., also worked with a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the Senate to get the amendment included in the final bill.
“This is a big win for Connecticut dairy farmers,” Murphy said. “These restrictions were forcing farmers to offload portions of their milk along the way, hurting their bottom line and potentially putting consumers’ health at risk.”