Farm Alert – Implements of Husbandry

A recent court decision in a case handled by Bakke Norman attorney Tim O’Brien may have a profound effect on Wisconsin’s agriculture community. Because the decision impacts all of our farm clients, we are sending this “Farm Alert” to make you aware of the issue and suggest steps you may want to take.

The case impacts what kinds of equipment may be legally operated on Wisconsin roads. Before this case, most people understood that any sort of vehicle or equipment that was designed for agricultural purposes, used exclusively for agricultural operations and was principally used off the highway was an “implement of husbandry” that did not need to comply with the various restrictions placed on other vehicles on the roads, such as maximum width and maximum length. Our case involved the manure spreading vehicle pictured below:

Truck Side

Truck Back End

The case started with a Wisconsin State Patrol officer issuing our client a ticket for being over the width limit of 8’6”. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) contends that a change to the law made in 1989 specifically excludes any vehicle that would qualify as a commercial motor vehicle (a vehicle designed or used to transport property and weighing more than 26,000 lbs.) from being an implement of husbandry. It appears there had been little to no enforcement of this legal interpretation until recently.

We argued that our client’s manure spreading vehicle did not need to comply with the width requirements because it was an implement of husbandry. The Court of Appeals concluded that the relevant statutes did not allow for this vehicle to be classified as an implement of husbandry. The Court reached this decision despite the fact that a trailer-mounted bulk liquid fertilizer container, arguably a vehicle utilized for the same essential purpose, is specifically listed in the statutes as an “implement of husbandry.” Click here to read the Court’s decision.

The Court of Appeals stated its decision was “unfortunate.” However, the decision means that vehicles, equipment and machinery that are routinely used in Wisconsin farming operations may be in violation of the law. The Court of Appeals noted that any change to the law must come from the legislature. We are aware that there is a DOT-led committee that is looking into these issues. While it has issued an Interim Report, it will likely be months, if not longer, before that committee makes any recommendations to the legislature. To read the interim report, click here.

In an effort to educate legislators on the issues, we have sent a letter to our local representatives. Click here to see the letter. We urge you to become educated on this issue and to take appropriate steps to make sure you are in compliance with the law. We also urge you to contact your legislators to provide them your opinion on how the law affects you and your operation.

If you would like additional information, please feel free to contact us.

A print-friendly version of this Farm Alert is available for downloading.

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Business and Economic Development in Western Wisconsin – May 17, 2013

Breakfast with Bakke Norman“Business and Economic Development in Western Wisconsin” was the topic of the May 2013 installment of the “Breakfast with Bakke Norman” series. A group of panelists offered information to businesses and governmental officials about the resources and opportunities that exist to grow the Wisconsin economy.

The panelists include:

Other Videos from the, “Business and Economic Development in Western Wisconsin” series.

Ryan Murray discussed WEDC’s efforts to raise awareness that Wisconsin is not just beer, cheese and the Packers, but is also a great place to do business. He shared some of the resources that are available for businesses that want to locate in Wisconsin, including online tools that identify what resources specific locations offer (see LocateInWI.com), direct financial support and the Qualified New Business Ventures program. Ryan also indicated that we will be seeing more visibility of the “in Wisconsin” branding, as they work to tell Wisconsin’s story and attract new business to Wisconsin.

Char Gurney informed the group of the ways in which the Regional Business Fund can assist business growth in our region. Tools available include a revolving loan fund, a micro loan fund for start-up businesses, the downtown facade loan program and the technology enterprise fund.

Mark Tyler shared his experience in partnering his business with the technical college system and a local high school to create a pool of skilled workers. Mark sought out the partnership because his business was having difficulty finding skilled workers. That problem will only increase as more workers are leaving the workforce for retirement than are entering the workforce to replace them. The program keeps high school students engaged, decreases their post-secondary education costs by earning college credit while in high school, and shortens their path to full-time employment. Mark encouraged those interested to visit goldcollarcareers.com.

Tom Schumacher’s discussion drew on his experiences working with municipalities, businesses and community banks to fund and develop business in the area. He encouraged municipalities to know their best attributes and utilize them to partner with businesses that fit best.

Business and Economic Development in Western Wisconsin Tom Schumacher, Bakke Norman

Breakfast with Bakke NormanTom Schumacher’s discussion drew on his experiences working with municipalities, businesses and community banks to fund and develop business in the area.

He encouraged municipalities to know their best attributes and utilize them to partner with businesses that fit best.

The panelists include:

Other Videos from the, “Business and Economic Development in Western Wisconsin” series.

Business and Economic Development in Western Wisconsin Mark Tyler, OEM Fabricators, Inc.

Breakfast with Bakke NormanMark Tyler shared his experience in partnering his business with the technical college system and a local high school to create a pool of skilled workers. Mark sought out the partnership because his business was having difficulty finding skilled workers.

That problem will only increase as more workers are leaving the workforce for retirement than are entering the workforce to replace them. The program keeps high school students engaged, decreases their post-secondary education costs by earning college credit while in high school, and shortens their path to full-time employment.

Mark encouraged those interested to visit goldcollarcareers.com.

Video | Humorous – Why We Need Math Skills

The panelists include:

Other Videos from the, “Business and Economic Development in Western Wisconsin” series.

Business and Economic Development in Western Wisconsin Char Gurney, West Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission

Breakfast with Bakke NormanChar Gurney informed the group of the ways in which the Regional Business Fund can assist business growth in our region.

Tools available include a revolving loan fund, a micro loan fund for start-up businesses, the downtown facade loan program and the technology enterprise fund.

The panelists include:

Other Videos from the, “Business and Economic Development in Western Wisconsin” series.

Business and Economic Development in Western Wisconsin Ryan Murray, Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation

Breakfast with Bakke NormanRyan Murray discussed WEDC’s efforts to raise awareness that Wisconsin is not just beer, cheese and the Packers, but is also a great place to do business.

He shared some of the resources that are available for businesses that want to locate in Wisconsin, including online tools that identify what resources specific locations offer (see LocateInWI.com), direct financial support and the Qualified New Business Ventures program.

Ryan also indicated that we will be seeing more visibility of the “in Wisconsin” branding, as they work to tell Wisconsin’s story and attract new business to Wisconsin.

The panelists include:

Other Videos from the, “Business and Economic Development in Western Wisconsin” series.