Gov. Dennis Daugaard has declared a statewide emergency because of the ongoing drought conditions in South Dakota. As part of the State of Emergency, the state will ease haying and transportation restrictions to assist agriculture producers.
“The drought has really hurt grass and hay production in much of the state, which is making our ag producers scramble to keep livestock fed. I’m hopeful that these changes will help keep livestock on the farm until the drought breaks,” said Gov. Dennis Daugaard.
Effective immediately, farmers and ranchers may cut and bale state highway ditches adjacent to their property. The South Dakota Department of Transportation has suspended their mowing operations until July 5 to allow farmers to access more of the hay along the ditches. During this time SDDOT will continue to mow in urban areas. For safety reasons, mowing in the medians of divided four-lane highways is prohibited and a permit is still required for mowing interstate right-of-ways. Because of the dry conditions, farmers and ranchers are strongly encouraged to carry fire extinguishers on mowing equipment. Producers are also reminded to be watchful of traffic along the highways and to always yield to oncoming traffic.
The state is also authorizing producers to travel statewide without a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to ease transport of feed in the drought stricken area.
With the emergency drought disaster declaration federal trucking regulations are waived for the transportation of goods such as hay. FMCSA regulations ranging from 390-399 are waived for the next 30 days. Those include general regulations, driving training regulations, special driving considerations, parts and accessories, medical cards, hours of service, and proof of annual inspections.
Also as part of an emergency declaration, permits are available to allow oversize movement of hay up to 12 feet wide and to extend the time allowed for movement of vehicles from 4 a.m. to 10 p.m., provided the load has reflectorized or lighted oversize load signs on the front and back of the vehicle(s). The permits are free and available by contacting the South Dakota Highway Patrol Permitting Office at 605-698-3925.
For more information on state highway ditch mowing, call Greg Fuller, SDDOT director of operations at 605-773-3256.