Drought Prompts Exemptions for Hay Shipments to Oklahoma, Missouri

hay on truck
Sundry Photography/Getty Images

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Missouri and Oklahoma have lifted some transportation weight restrictions for hay shipments to help farmers and ranchers there affected by severe drought.

A 30-day weight exemption for trucks carrying hay to farmers and ranchers is under effect in Oklahoma following an executive order by Gov. Kevin Stitt due to drought.

Stitt said the exemption, authorized in an Oct. 11 executive order, enables more commercial hay loads to be brought into Oklahoma to meet state needs.

Oklahoma drought map

(U.S. Drought Monitor)

“As our farmers and ranchers continue navigating unprecedented challenges brought on by this year’s extreme drought, it is our responsibility as leaders to offer assistance and support wherever we can,” Stitt noted.

Local hay prices have skyrocketed three times higher than usual.

“Many in Oklahoma are struggling to afford hay which has resulted in small farmers and ranchers being forced to get rid of their cattle in some cases,” the governor’s office declared.

The order for transporting commercial hay loads adjusts weight measurements and extends the width limit from 11 feet to 12 feet. Hay loads cannot exceed 14 feet high.

Gov. Stitt

Stitt meets with Oklahoma farmers. (oklahoma.gov)

Much of Oklahoma is experiencing extreme drought, with large areas under exceptional drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, produced through a partnership between the National Drought Mitigation Center, U.S. Department of Agriculture and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The drought has impeded local hay production, necessitating the need for hay shipments from other states. Oklahoma’s Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry has a website for various types of hay resources from suppliers in such states as Arkansas, Louisiana and Ohio.

Missouri drought map

(U.S. Drought Monitor)

Missouri is offering a special over-width hauling permit to help its farmers and ranchers move hay due to severe drought conditions. The state’s Department of Natural Resources reported Oct. 18 all Missouri counties were experiencing dryness, with the most intense areas (ranging from severe to exceptional drought) located in the west and southwest.

Missouri Department of Transportation has been issuing special permits since July 21 allowing widths for hay loads to increase to up to 12 feet and 6 inches for blankets and up to 14 feet in width for single trip permits.

Before hauling hay under the special permit, drivers must apply for the special permit for loads greater than 8 feet, 6 inches wide and map their routes to avoid work zones, bridges and other areas that have weight, narrow lane or height restrictions.

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The waiver also allows drivers to transport hay during holiday periods and at night. “At night, or when visibility is less than 500 feet, drivers must use a reflective, oversized load sign and clearance lights instead of the normal flags required at the edges of the load,” MoDOT stipulated. It added that drivers must use proper signage as well as lighting and stop at weigh stations.

MoDOT is waiving $15 single trip and $64 blanket permit fees through October. Permits can be requested via MoDOT’s Carrier Express online service. For fee waivers, customers can call MoDOT when submitting their applications or insert a fee waiver comment into the online application so an agent can waive the charge.

Alarmed by deteriorating farming and ranching conditions, Gov. Mike Parson signed an executive order early in the drought in mid-July. The order declared a drought alert in 53 of the state’s 114 counties, and mobilized MoDOT and other state agencies to provide assistance.