Free Markets, Free People

The regulatory (and legal) attacks on private property

Witness the story about the DOT proposing a new rule that would require all operators of farm equipment to hold a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). That would also require all the paperwork and cost that goes with it (while small family farms try to comply with rules, costs and regulations designed for semi-truck drivers). Here’s a video to help explain the story:



Of course, saying that the idea is "absurd" has simply lost its impact in this sea of absurdity. Absurd, it seems, is the new normal.  Along with the environmental movement’s success in limiting land use, to include land owned privately, as well as the Kelo decision giving much broader eminent domain powers to governments, property rights have never been more in peril.   And property rights, whether you want to believe it or not, are fundamental to our other rights.

Now we have another attack on property rights – you’ll no longer have the right to decide who can drive what on your private property.   The tradition of family farms – which relies on everyone in the family to succeed – is now about to irrevocably regulated away.

Some more details about what this means:

The proposed change also means ANYONE driving a tractor or operating any piece of motorized farming equipment would be forced to pass the same rigorous tests and fill out the same detailed forms and diaries required of semi-tractor trailer drivers. This reclassification would bury small farms and family farms in regulation and paperwork.

Some of the additional paperwork and regulation required:

-Detailed logs would need to be kept by all drivers – hours worked, miles traveled, etc.

-Vehicles would have to display DOT numbers

-Drivers would need to pass a physical as well as a drug test – every two years.

The Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation (WFBF) is one of many farm organizations not happy about the idea and has sent the DOT a letter expressing this opinion:

“WFBF opposes any change in statue or regulatory authority that would reclassify implements of husbandry or other farm equipment as Commercial Motor Vehicles (CMVs)”

WFBF Director of Governmental Relations Karen Gefvert continues, explaining the excessive cost to farmers if this allowed to move forward:

“The proposed guidance by the FMCSA would result in an initial increased cost to each Wisconsin farmer and employee of $124 just for the CDL license, permit and test; not to mention the time and cost for the behind-the-wheel training that is several thousand dollars.”

Additionally, Illinois farmers believe this regulation will also force new restrictions on trucks used in crop-share hauling. (One estimate claims more than 30% of Illinois farmers utilize shared land.) These crop-share trucks are typically limited-use vehicles that often travel fewer than 3000 miles each year, mainly hauling crops from the fields to nearby grain elevators. To require them to follow the same rules as semis would also mean a farmer would be forced to purchase substantial insurance.

If you want to find a way to drive individually owned farmers out of business, adding absolutely unnecessary requirements and costs is a great way to start.

I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but I do want to point to something that I’ve known about an watched over the years.   It’s called “Agenda 21” and it is a UN program first signed on too by George H.W. Bush in 1992.  Here’s some of the disturbing verbiage driving that agenda:

Land… cannot be treated as an ordinary asset, controlled by individuals and subject to the pressures and inefficiencies of the market. Private land ownership is also a principal instrument of accumulation and concentration of wealth and therefore contributes to social injustice; if unchecked, it may become a major obstacle in the planning and implementation of development schemes. The provision of decent dwellings and healthy conditions for the people can only be achieved if land is used in the interest of society as a whole. -  Source: United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat I),Vancouver, BC, May 31 – June 11, 1976. Preamble to Agenda Item 10 of the Conference Report.

That has pretty much been a guiding principle in the UN’s agenda for decades, obviously, and now in it’s Agenda 21.  We, apparently, along with 177 other world leaders, signed on to this anti-American (and I mean that in the truest sense of the word) agenda.  George Soros is a huge backer of the initiative, and I’ve found, over the years, if Soros is for something, freedom is surely going to take a beating.  I’m not saying that there’s an active, agenda driven group that is purposely trying to implement this agenda.  I am saying though that this agenda can and may be used as a self-justification for various officials at differing levels of government to implement its principles because they believe in them.

You can read a bit about it here.   Bottom line, of course, is it is against private ownership and as we saw in Kelo private ownership was indeed “a major obstacle in the planning and implementation of development schemes.”  So instead of upholding individual property rights, the court opted to give governments at all levels broader power to take private property.

This new requirement from DOT is somewhat different.   It actually takes power from states and localities and centralizes it.   By making farm machinery something which must be regulated by the federal government, it usurps that local and state power in favor of broader federal regulation.  Of course the loser here is the farmer who must now face the cost, lost productivity and bureaucratic record keeping and other compliance costs of something which has never been and shouldn’t now be any concern of the Federal government.

This isn’t the only example of these sorts of attacks.  You have the EPA attempting to expand beyond its mandate.   And other bureaucracies are as well.   And it isn’t just limited to the federal level.   At every level there’s some government bureaucrat trying to find ways to control your property or tell you how you must live on it.  In one of the silliest, but obviously serious attempts (the property owner was threatened with 93 days in jail for non-compliance with some vague city ordnance), we see a city manager going way beyond what most reasonable people would find, well, reasonable:


Thankfully, public pressure made the boob back off, but I have little doubt in my mind he’d have jailed the woman if left to his own devices.  “Agenda 21” stuff – eh, probably not.   Tin-pot dictator’s syndrome?  Probably.  But regardless, a threat to property rights.

Our property rights are dying the death of a thousand cuts.   We need to push back and push back hard against infringements on a local level (the garden) as well as the national level (DOT and EPA regulatory power grabs).

Otherwise, when they decide they can control the temperature in your house automatically (as they’ve tried in CA), you won’t have a legal leg to stand on.  Right now they’re both wooden and government termites are busily at work.

[HT: @Longhawl]


Twitter: @McQandO

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21 Responses to The regulatory (and legal) attacks on private property

  • I am wondering if I am reading the DOT document correctly, as I am coming to a different conclusion.  Nowhere in the actual “Request for Comments” does the DOT state that they are proposing a new regulation forcing all farm personnel to have a CDL.  The document even states that husbandry equipment can generally be driven on the farm and even for short distances on the road without a CDL.
    The part you are concerned with seems to be limited to farmers who are transporting crops to market under a cropshare arrangement where they are partly transporting someone else’s crops as well.  The DOT in the document doesn’t state that they are issuing a regulation requiring a CDL, rather they are only seeking comments on how the States handle the crop share transporters.  Even if they enact a new regulation along these lines, which may indeed be a bad decision, it will only affect those farmers who are actually transporting the cropshare crops to market, not “all operators of farm equipment,” as you state.

    • Here’s the summary from the proposal:

      FMCSA requests public comment on: (1) Previously published regulatory guidance on the distinction between interstate and intrastate commerce in deciding whether operations of commercial motor vehicles within the boundaries of a single State are subject to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs); (2) the factors the States are using in deciding whether farm vehicle drivers transporting agricultural commodities, farm supplies and equipment as part of a crop share agreement are subject to the commercial driver’s license regulations; and (3) proposed guidance to determine whether off-road farm equipment or implements of husbandry operated on public roads for limited distances are considered commercial motor vehicles. The guidance would be used to help ensure uniform application of the safety regulations by enforcement personnel, motor carriers and commercial motor vehicle drivers.

      Seems to support exactly what I’m saying … the first bold is quite clear – but in number (3) you have to understand that if “off-road” farm equipment or implements (which may travel between fields on a public road for a short distance) are considered “commercial motor vehicles”, then a CDL will be required.

    • It wasn’t just crop-share farmers.  They presented a particular facet that DOT thought hadn’t been well enough covered, and they cited them as sort of not being covered by the current exceptions provided for animal husbandry vehicles – which only really spoke of a farm owner, not a farm leaser, as the crop sharers are.
      So, now they want to make sure they have covered the farm leaser, who may not own either the farm, OR the equipment used to tend the acreage.
      In any event, it still does seem to only cover the CMV issue of moving the crops over longer hauls than just ‘down the road’ from field to silo (the range of exemption is 150 miles in the current guidelines for the FARMER – hence their interest in defining what the share cropper is in this scheme).  They also (would like to )tighten up the equipment exempted to be viewed, essentially, as farming equipment not intended specifically for use on a highway at ‘traffic’ speeds.   Combines, harvesters, tractors and what not are still exempted.
      Frightening to read what they think is  intra-state and what they think is inter-state, and how your intent is what makes the difference, even if you move the corn from your combine to the hauler, to the silo, in the same state, where it sits for a year before it is sold and shipped someplace else.
      No wonder the government is comfortable telling us it can force us to buy health insurance.
      It’s not just spending we need to get under control, though their thirst for spending is what motivates decisions to claim the Federal Government has a right to interfere, regulate and tax, (but I repeat myself)  in pretty much any sort of business that goes on.

      • looker – It’s not just spending we need to get under control, though their thirst for spending is what motivates decisions to claim the Federal Government has a right to interfere, regulate and tax, (but I repeat myself)  in pretty much any sort of business that goes on.

        I don’t think that it’s spending so much as a combination of “do-gooderism”, “every problem looks like a nail” and bureaucrats feeling the need to find something to justify their existence.  I mean, really: it must get pretty dull at the Department of Transportation, though it must also get rather tense when the words “budget cuts” start floating around DC.  “Gentlemen, we’ve gotta do something to protect our phoney-baloney jobs!  HARUMPH!  HARUMPH!”

        • “I don’t think that it’s spending so much as a combination of “do-gooderism”,…”

          It has nothing to do with doing good. It is bureaucratic dotting of the Is and crossing the Ts. Tidying up loose ends. There has to be a definitive answer to any possible question, no interpretation allowed.

    • No, I take it back – it is trying to get the crop share drivers to be outside the exemption provided for the actual farmer who presumably owns the property the crop share farmer/driver is leasing.
      It’s unclear to me from the reading and not specified if the farmer himself is or is not a party “working in a crop share agreement” if he agrees to take a share of the share cropper’s produce as payment for lease of the property and equipment (if the share cropper used it).
      (heck, why wouldn’t they, because it’s interstate commerce if I grow corn in Iowa and think I might sell it in Illinois)
      150 mile hauling range without a CDL.
      The fatal exception in this being “Not used in the operations of a common or contract motor carrier;”

  • There was one quote from the story that I think almost touched on what is surely one of the hidden agendas behind this idiocy.  The story mentioned”replacing family help with expensive, professional drivers.”  They left one word out of that that would have cleared up the confusion:  expensive, professional, UNION drivers.  Surely the Teamsters had a hand in this.

    • Ya think?

    • After all, is it cheaper to hire a trained CDL driver (Teamsters) and his tractor to haul your corn from point a to point b, or cheaper to get the training, the certification, the license, and the bi-yearly physical?

  • We need a leader who will articulate, and push for the Human Agenda.  Article 1 of the Human Agenda:
    Marxism and Socialism, in their various forms, have been the single greatest threat to human life and liberty in the last two and one half centuries. They must be opposed when found.

  • anoNY:
    As I read the proposal, the agency is asking for comments on the proposal to define all farm vehicles as commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) which would necessitate a CDL.

    • They can ask for all the comments they like – sorta like the polls that indicate the majority of Americans DIDN’T want Obamacare.
      How’d that work out anyway>

    • As much as I shudder at more government regulation, I think that’s wrong. If you go back to the original proposal there are 3 issues, the issue concerning what we commoners would call farm equipment is addressed in issue 3
      “and (3) proposed guidance to determine whether off-road farm equipment or implements of husbandry operated on public roads for limited distances are considered commercial motor vehicles.”
      This is driven by state to state differences in how “implements of husbandry” are defined. As you would expect some states are more permissive than others. And not surprisingly this “concerns” the Feds.
      Here’s the specific guidance listed as an addendum:

      “Question: Do implements of husbandry meet the definitions of “commercial motor vehicle” as used in 49 CFR 383.5 and 390.5?Show citation box
      Guidance: No. Implements of husbandry are outside the scope of these definitions when operated: (1) At a farm; or (2) on a public road open to unrestricted public travel, provided the equipment is not designed or used to travel at normal highway speeds in the stream of traffic. This equipment, however, must be operated in accordance with State and local safety laws and regulations as required by 49 CFR 392.2 and may be subject to State or local permit requirements with regard to escort vehicles, special markings, time of day, day of the week, and/or the specific route.”
      One problem that some farmers will face is that they are using trucks and road tractors over the road where they would normally be regulated by the FMCSA but haven’t been until now.
      I’d just as soon re-direct them to something important like solving world hunger or expanding the space time continuum and let these particular sleeping dogs lie.

  • Are there not enough homeowner’s associations in this vast country of ours for all these people to join, so that they can exercise their inner Nazi on less significant things, like forcing people to have entry mats that say “Welcome” on them in letters no less than six inches and no more than 9 inches high???

  • I don’t know about you guys but I grew up on a farm and there were plenty of 18 & 20 hour days I prayed for a break.  But I (we) never would have thought it was the governments place to dictate our work schedule.
    It would seem if they are allowed to pass this not only would farmers be required to obtain CDL’s but would also be restricted in the number of hours they could operate their machinery without a break for food, rest & sleep.

    Legal Basis

    The Motor Carrier Act of 1935 (74, 49 Stat. 543, August 9, 1935) (1935 Act) provides that the Secretary of Transportation may prescribe requirements for (1) qualifications and maximum hours of service of employees of, and safety of operation and equipment of, a motor carrier; and (2) qualifications and maximum hours of service of employees of, and standards of equipment of, a motor private carrier, when needed to promote safety of operation (49 U.S.C. 31502(b)).

  • PS – I meant to add that I saw this last week somewhere else and have already contacted my senator and congressman.  I would encourage all of you to let your senator & congressman know what you think about this.

  • I cannot believe you would deny a hard working bureaucrat the chance to add to his base of supplicants!

    • I think there are more than a few “hard working bureaucrat’s” who should be shown the door.
      But that’s just me.  They can call me a Tea Party Terrorist if they want.

  • off-road farm equipment or implements of husbandry operated on public roads for limited distances are considered commercial motor vehicles.
    What about a mule?

  • You know, this only makes sense if ultimately I won’t have to pay for a license plate for my car. Otherwise, get the unregistered crap off my roads that I pay for. Also, like the previous comment these are off road vehicles, and they do really well there (I know, I operated a few of them back in the day).