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RETAIL FARM SUPPLY DEALERS CRITICAL OF AMERICAN TRUCKERS POSITION

RETAIL FARM SUPPLY DEALERS CRITICAL OF AMERICAN TRUCKERS POSITION
 WASHINGTON, March 20 /PRNewswire/ -- The National AgriChemical Retailers Association (NARA) has challenged the American Trucking Association's (ATA) position on a modified commercial drivers license (CDL) for retail farm supply dealers.
 Chris Myrick, director of legislative and regulatory affairs for NARA, stated that studies by U.S. Department of Transportation prove that the proposed waiver is in no way "disastrous" for America's highways. "The ATA comments are unfounded," said Myrick. "The drivers of farm supply trucks have a far better safety record than over the road truckers. That's in the DOT study."
 The CDL waiver proposal, which DOT announced last week, would give individual states the option of issuing restricted CDLs to seasonal drivers of farm-related vehicles. "In many cases, these small agricultural businesses must hire seasonal drivers for a few very busy weeks in the spring and fall to move farm inputs to the field or bring in harvested crops," according to Myrick. "Because of the length of time it takes to go through the CDL qualification process, many rural agribusinesses cannot find drivers holding a CDL, and that means farmers will not receive service."
 Myrick responded to several ATA statements which he calls "false."
 "First, DOT's proposal would not exempt drivers of vehicles transporting farm-related hazardous loads. All drivers of vehicles carrying any hazardous pesticide and large loads of fertilizers must obtain a CDL under the DOT proposal.
 "Second, ATA indicates that no safety data was collected by the DOT in relation to the waiver. The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) conducted a safety study in 1988 of farm-related vehicles and found that they posed an insignificant safety risk on our nation's highways.
 "Finally, seasonal drivers with restricted CDL's under the DOT proposal will be tracked and monitored by the DOT."
 Ken Root, NARA executive director, stated that the basic components of the trucking association's recommended changes to the DOT waiver are supported by retail farm supply dealers, however, the DOT made the criteria in their proposal broader to allow differences in each state. Root said that states will have the option of adopting, denying or restricting the proposed waiver.
 Scott Ramsdell, NARA president and an agricultural retailer from Flandreau, S.D., stated that the relief proposed by the waiver will be of tremendous help to U.S. agribusiness and farmers.
 -0- 3/20/92
 /CONTACT: Victoria Shaw of the National AgriChemical Retailers Association, 202-457-0825/ CO: National AgriChemical Retailers Association ST: District of Columbia IN: TRN SU:


DC -- DC027 -- 0269 03/20/92 17:36 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Mar 20, 1992
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