Vermont Lowers Cost of Milk Hauler Overweight Permits
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A new law that took effect Nov. 1 regarding overweight permits in Vermont is making it easier and less expensive for milk haulers to transport this key ingredient in the state’s vital dairy industry.
Vermont’s dairy farms produced 2.6 billion pounds of milk last year, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics, mostly from Holstein and Jersey cows, but also from goats and sheep.
Capt. Adam Pockette, motor vehicle safety chief at the Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles, told Transport Topics that the changes in state law were made to create a more efficient and clearer administrative permit and at the appropriate cost. “Historically, there were three types of permits that a hauler could legally operate at 90,000 pounds in Vermont if the load consisted solely of unprocessed milk products.”
- One way was to register to transport 90,000 pounds on state roads and purchase a $10 permit to legally carry that weight on the interstate highway system.
- Another method was to register to move 80,000 pounds and pay $382 to buy an unprocessed milk products overweight permit for 90,000 pounds on state roads and the interstate highway system.
- The third option involved registering for 80,000 pounds, then buying a 90,000-pound all-products permit for $415 for transportation on state roads plus a $10 permit to legally operate on the interstate highway system.
Last year, the state issued 147 permits of the first type, 45 of the second type and 2,000 of the third type.
This complicated system was overhauled during Vermont’s past legislative session with Senate Bill 99 (an Act Relating to Miscellaneous Changes to Laws Related to Vehicles) promulgated by the Senate Transportation Committee. When signed June 1 by Gov. Phil Scott, the legislation became Act 41, 56 pages that modified state transportation laws, including overweight truck permits.
Pockette explained that the statutory changes consolidated the previous permits. There are now fewer fees for a milk hauler that registers to carry 90,000 pounds because the $10 interstate permit is eliminated.
“All haulers who purchased a 90,000-pound all-products permit would pay [$33] less due to a cost change from $415 to $382, and the permit could be used to haul any type of load,” he added.
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Also, milk haulers that paid for the 90,000-pound unprocessed milk products permit now can get an all-products permit for the same cost plus the added flexibility of being able to haul different types of loads.
“The changes make the permit process easier for the ag industry as they do not have to purchase the unprocessed milk products [permit] and the all-products permit. Now, they just purchase the all-products permit and may haul any product,” Pockette noted. “The unprocessed milk products permits were eliminated, and no new permits were created.”
The streamlined process for the overweight and milk hauling permitting changes is expected to result in a loss of $17,000 in state transportation fund revenue starting in fiscal 2024, according to a February analysis by the Vermont Legislative Joint Fiscal Office.
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The office noted that the Federal Highway Administration allowed Vermont in fiscal 2012 to permit overweight vehicles to operate on interstate highways that were heavier than federal weight limits if the vehicles were either registered for the excess weight or had a valid overweight permit. Although this FHWA ruling was to expire in 2031, it was made permanent in June 2016 “with no expiration date.”
This year, state legislators backed the overweight permit changes to align Vermont laws more closely with federal permit requirements, simplify state permit regulations and lower costs for the local milk hauling industry.