Lauderdale County farmer James Walker doesn’t ask for much from state government. He works hard, pays his taxes and goes to church with his family.
But Alabama’s restriction on F4 farm tags forces him to purchase more expensive X9 tags and hurts his business.
When the Alabama Legislature convenes March 3, a bill lifting F4 farm tag purchase limits will be a top priority for the Alabama Farmers Federation.
“I’ve seriously considered selling the trucks I put X9 tags on because it’s hard to justify paying three times the amount of an F4 farm tag,” Walker said. “If they lifted the restriction, I know farmers would get more F4 tags.”
F4 farm tags, for trucks over 42,001 pounds, cost $250 each, while X9 truck tags (trucks over 80,000 pounds) cost as much as $890. F4 farm tags are the only tag limited for purchase in the state of Alabama and are for farm use only.
“A farmer may use a tractor trailer four months out of the year,” said Federation State House of Representatives Programs Director David Cole. “But they’re paying the same price as something that may be on the road all year. Our goal is to allow farmers to purchase as many farm tags as their operation needs.”
Walker said when his combine is running during harvest, he needs at least two trucks to keep his operation running smoothly, but usually runs three to maximize efficiency.
“When I’m cutting 200-plus bushels of corn to the acre, I’m filling up a truck every 30 minutes,” Walker said. “It’s taking more than 30 minutes to get to my grain bin, unload and get the truck back. When that combine starts in the field, I don’t need it to stop.”
A bill by Rep. Alan Boothe, R-Troy, to lift the ban last year passed the House but died in the closing minutes of the Senate. Federation State Senate Programs Director Matthew Durdin said he’s hopeful the Senate will pass a bill this year.
“We had a lot of support for the bill last year, and we want to give our friends in the Senate another opportunity this year,” Durdin said. “The bill died before coming up for a vote on the last day of the session last year.”
Farmers can sign up to receive the Federation’s Capitol Connection e-newsletter at alfafarmers.org/about/sign-up-form.
To find legislation, contact elected officials or take action during the 2015 legislative session, click here to visit the Federation’s newest political action tool.