WASHINGTON - After nine extensions and more than a thousand days, the highway bill comes to an end tomorrow, June 30, 2012. In a last minute decision, the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate today, June 29, 2012, passed a transportation bill (MAP-21)  that resulted from an agreement made Wednesday. National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President J.D. expressed approval for the legislation but said there is still work to be done.

“This very important bill is another example of legislation that resulted from bipartisan compromise. This bill has been on a road to nowhere for more than three years. Cattlemen should be relieved that progress has been made,” said Alexander, who is a cattleman from Pilger, Neb. “Specifically, this bill is a big deal to farm and ranch families across the country. Many do not realize just how important this transportation legislation is to farmers and ranchers.”

Alexander said the legislation includes many provisions that are good for cattlemen and women. The final agreement includes the Farmers’ Freedom Act (H.R. 2414), which was sponsored by Rep. James Lankford (R-Okla.). Alexander said H.R. 2414 will prevent certain farm vehicles from vigorous federal requirements, such as commercial driver’s licenses, designed for fulltime commercial drivers. Among the provisions included in H.R. 2414, the legislation provides additional uniformity across state lines. Also included on that list of provisions is H.R. 3265, which was introduced by Congressman Sam Graves (R-Mo.). This legislation waives certain driving restrictions during planting and harvesting seasons for farmers who are transporting commodities.  

Alexander said NCBA supports making transportation policies more efficient for cattle producers by creating uniform transportation laws across all states and helping states adopt transportation laws that increase allowable weight, length and trailer requirements. Alexander said NCBA, the oldest and largest national cattle organization, was disappointed that truck weights were not directly addressed in MAP-21.

“State governments need to be given the option to increase truck weights with an additional axle to livestock and semi-trailers. This will increase braking power and place less total weight on each axle, making livestock transportation safer, more economical and less stressful on U.S. roadways,” said Alexander.

Alexander said transportation was included in NCBA’s top five priorities in 2012. He said the organization supports the agreement reached and was pleased that another extension was avoided. However, he said NCBA will continue working with members of Congress to address other NCBA transportation priorities.