South Dakota Farmers unhappy with the current legal height for trucks hauling hay

Published: Dec. 16, 2019 at 6:45 PM CST
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South Dakota Farmers are unhappy with the current legal height for trucks hauling hay.

At their meeting Saturday night, South Dakota Farmers Union District 1 delegates unanimously voted to support a resolution for increasing the permitted height of hay haulers in the state.

Farmers who transport hay regularly say the current standard is not high enough for them to haul full loads, and it is costing them money.

Josh Schmidt, owner of Schmidt Brothers Farms, has been in the hay industry for three decades. He says the state's height restrictions are out of date.

"Things haven't changed for 23 years," Schmidt said. "Neighboring states are 15 ft., 15 1/2 ft., there is no reason why we can't be the same."

Current state law says the maximum height for vehicles, including their trailer, may not exceed 14 feet, and may only extend three inches higher with an oversize permit.

Schmidt says recently, law enforcement has started cracking down on these restrictions, forcing him to send out smaller loads than normal, and it cutting into his bottom line.

"I'm being picked up about everyday, given warnings, fines, and they are threatening to make us unload these loads, Schmidt said. "If we unload the round bales we're going to be hauling 10% less, and if we unload the square bales we're going to be hauling 20% less."

District One of the South Dakota Farmers Union has listened to Schmidt's concerns and intends to push legislation that would allow trucks to haul loads up to 15 ft. tall.

But the next legislative session isn't until January of 2020, and Schmidt wants to see results now.

"Immediately, I hope the governor responds to this and says hey, highway patrol stop, this is wrong, we need to allow our haulers to haul," Schmidt said. "Maybe they can give us a grace period while they investigate it further, but they need to quit picking is up."

The South Dakota Office of Public Safety says that the Highway patrol is just enforcing the law.