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Hay haulers want change in height restrictions law

Jerry Oster, WNAX - December 17, 2019

PIERRE, SD - Some South Dakota truckers are being fined for exceeding hay height restrictions.  They say the 23-year-old law is just now being enforced.  At a recent District 1 Farmers Union meeting, the group passed a resolution to increase the permitted hay height to 15 feet, six inches.  Josh Schmidt produces and transports hay from his farms near Avon and Sioux Falls.  He says the current height of only 14 feet, three inches isn’t practical.

 “In the last month, they decided to try to enforce the height restrictions,” he observed.  “South Dakota allows 14 feet.  If you buy an over-sized permit - which we are required to do if we’re hauling hay - that only allows an additional three inches.  That permit is basically worthless.  There’s not a single load of hay in round bales being baled today that can meet those specs.”

He says the law needs to be changed immediately to match higher levels in other states. “And it needs to change right away. All the neighboring states recognize it.  In Minnesota, they allow 15 feet (with restrictions in the Twin Cities).  In Iowa, my permit allows me 15.5 feet. 

Schmidt says they’ve contacted the Governor’s office for help and have not received a response.  They’ve also contacted the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association.  Executive Director Jodie Anderson says they’re also concerned and looking into the matter.

“There are least one or two folks who are having some issues in being over-height from what is currently allowable under their permit,” said Anderson. “We’re still digging into what other state requirements are and hoping we can work with the Department of Public Safety so that we’re aren’t restricting movement of forage products while at the same time watching out for public safety.”

A response from the State Department of Public Safety says the Highway Patrol is enforcing the law which sets a maximum height for hay at 14 feet, three inches.  A violation is a Class 2 misdemeanor.

Phone number: 605-347-4455
E-mail: [email protected]
Address: 1612 Junction Avenue, Suite #1
Sturgis, SD 57785