Branstad eases trucking rules to expedite hay shipments

For 60 days, load permits won't be necessary

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In a move to help drought-stricken livestock producers, Gov. Terry Branstad on Thursday suspended state laws and rules restricting truck transportation of hay, straw and the stalks and leaves of corn and soybeans.

Branstadís proclamation, which will be in effect for 60 days, allows transportation of loads weighing up to 90,000 pounds on non-interstate highways without a state permit.

Wide loads also can be moved without a permit as long as they donít exceed 12 feet, 5 inches in width.

Rules governing hours of service for drivers hauling specific agricultural products also are suspended.

The ongoing Midwest drought has caused extreme shortages of hay and pasture, which have resulted in a tripling of hay prices from about $70 per ton in April to more than $200 per ton this month.

The hay shortage has been exacerbated by the refusal of many truckers to haul the large round bales, the industry standard, because of the requirement that they first obtain state and county oversize load permits.

The USDA earlier this week released portions of acres enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program for haying and grazing to alleviate the shortage of forage for livestock. The first cutting of hay and straw from CRP acres is expected to arrive for auction in about three weeks, according to Dyersville Sales.

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