Proos melon bill rolls through state Senate

LANSING – Legislation sponsored by Sen. John Proos to fairly treat modified agricultural vehicles and give farmers flexibility in the transportation of goods was approved on Tuesday by the Michigan Senate.

“This is about supporting Southwest Michigan’s agricultural producers that are valuable community partners, employing thousands of workers and contributing millions of dollars to the local economy,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “By reducing unnecessary regulations, we can help ensure our family farmers are treated fairly as they bring their goods and produce to market.”

Under Senate Bill 516, vehicles that have been altered so that their primary purpose is agricultural transport would be treated the same under Michigan law as all other agricultural vehicles. The legislation is modeled after an Indiana law that was enacted to help farmers transport their produce.

The measure would also account for the shifting of agricultural goods during transport by allowing these vehicles to exceed the maximum axle weight restrictions by up to 10 percent, without penalty. However, if a vehicle surpasses the limit and the buffer, farmers will be penalized for the full amount that they exceeded the limit.

“This approach balances the need to maintain safety on our roads with giving our small business family farmers flexibility in transporting fresh produce to markets for all of us to enjoy,” Proos said.

Local farmer George Brossman of Vandalia testified in support of the bill in September. “This legislation would give Michigan farmers, like myself, the peace of mind to know we are operating within the law when transporting our products,” said Brossman, Cass County Farm Bureau Policy Development Committee chair. “This bill will allow farmers to focus their attention on getting their product to market without the burden of facing heavy state fines.”

SB 516 has been sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Editor’s Note – Audio comments by Sen. Proos on SB 516 are available in the form of a podcast on the senator’s webpage at www.SenatorJohnProos.com. Click on “Podcasts.