Farmers not fined for spilling debris on road
Tuesday, September 25, 2012 - 12:40 pm

To The Editor:

With thousands upon thousands of acres of farmland in New York, it proves year in and year out to be one of the nations top producers in several areas including the production of cow based dairy products, of which it ranks in the top five nationally on a consistent basis. Like all things, with the good often comes the bad; or in this case the incredibly annoying and potentially hazardous. With the beautiful scenery and tasty syrup comes another autumn annual event in Northern NY: harvest time.

In the creation of these cow based dairy products, it is true they need to eat. When early to mid September rolls around every year it is not a strange occurrence to see massive farm machinery in the fields stretching across St. Lawrence County chopping stalks of corn, grinding them up, and dispensing the product into large tandem axel dump trucks to be hauled to the silo for storage.

However, there is a problem that arises—when the trucks pull on to the highway, whether it is a state highway or a county route, they do not cover their loads of chopped corn. The trucks are often times over loaded when they leave the fields, and some of their load spills onto the roadway in big piles, which are then left there for everyone else driving on the roadway to avoid.

The trucks then travel down the highway with pieces of chopped corn stalk blowing off, leaving a windstorm of debris in their wake. This is not only an annoyance for passing motorists (in having their new $50,000 vehicles sand-blasted with corn), but also a safety hazard for those motorists who choose to cruise to their destination on 2 wheels, rather than four. Any motorcyclist will say that it surely does hurt being pelted with debris from an unsafe load of corn.

And so, the question is this: Why do farmers have a different set of rules to follow? If one partially eaten cob of corn falls off the back of a trash truck the driver can potentially receive citations for unsafe load, littering, and perhaps more.

Yet, farmers can lose tons of grain from the tops of their trucks and it goes seemingly unnoticed. Why do they not have to cover their loads with a tarp, as the rest of the trucks do that are hauling material? Additionally, the drivers of these “farm trucks” are not required to have a commercial drivers license, even when they meet all of the weight ratings of any class-B vehicle.

How is this possible? Is there any sort of explanation? Are farmers somehow better drivers than the rest of the population? Why are the “farm trucks” never inspected by NYS Police DOT? Some of them appear to be held together with zip ties and duct-tape, yet the DOT is never seen inspecting these vehicles.

This letter is being written not to complain, but in an attempt to shed light on these issues. All farmers are respected and it is well known they work hard. It is also true that the rest of us also work very hard and like farmers, also have families to get home to safely. Please tarp your loads!

Kyle Weaver, Canton