The Herald Banner, Greenville, TX

Opinion

October 17, 2012

Farm trucks, trailers should meet specific requirements

I have noticed more trucks displaying Farm Truck license tags than ever before. What are the requirements that legally allow a person to drive a truck with farm tags? Also, I see landscaping companies using farm tags on their trucks and utility trailers. Is that legal? — Andy, Campbell

There are two separate sets of Texas legal requirements at issue here: one for farm vehicles and one for farm trailers.

The registration fee for farm vehicles costs 50 percent of the amount non-farm registration costs. In order to qualify, the vehicle’s owner must use the vehicle “for commercial purposes only to transport: (1) the person’s own poultry, dairy, livestock, livestock products, timber in its natural state, or farm products to market or another place of sale or processing; (2) laborers from their place of residence to the owner’s farm or ranch; or (3) without charge, materials, tools, equipment, or supplies from the place of purchase or storage to the owner’s farm or ranch exclusively for the owner’s use or for use on the farm or ranch.”

Farm trailers (as well as farm tractors and semitrailers) have slightly different registration requirements. To qualify, those vehicles must weigh less than 34,000 pounds and be used to exclusively transport: “(a) Seasonally harvested agricultural products or livestock from the place of production to the place of processing, market, or storage; or (b) Farm supplies from the place of loading to the farm.”

Your question about landscaping companies could have several different answers depending on the landscaping business’ specific operations. If they use trailers to transport mowers and related equipment only, they might not be able to legally claim the farm trailer exemption. However, they are able to rely on the farm-trailer exemption if they use the trailers to haul plants for landscaping because Texas law recognizes the following as “agricultural products” — “live horticultural products and live nursery stock, including any tree, shrub, vine, cutting, graft, scion, grass, bulb, or bud that is in a growing state and is grown for, kept for, or is capable of propagation and distribution for sale.”

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