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Speculating on Farm Use Vehicle Tags

June 1, 2019

Not to judge anyone, but what violations do you see here? Perhaps the driver was buying fertilizer or other farm use materials? Taken on a city parking lot in Harrisonburg, Va. (And NOT a farm store.)

Another Way for week of May 31, 2019

Speculating on Farm Use Vehicle Tags

A trooper came to speak to our Lions Club recently. I like hearing state troopers talk, especially if they have a wry sense of humor. I believe it takes a healthy sense of humor to go out on the roads every day and hear some of our lame excuses for doing what we do.

Civic groups are places where troopers often speak because they usually get a free dinner, a rapt audience, and a few laughs. I’ll not use the trooper’s name but he wore his padded armor vest—I guess because he thought Lions were dangerous. But seriously, it’s a job that increasingly is hard to fill in our state and county, he said. Our state has budget for more troopers in our area but they cannot be hired or recruited. I pondered why this would be: the dangers, of course, but also the physical requirements to be in good shape to chase someone, and need it be said, intelligent enough to be smarter than some of the rest of us who do unwise things on the road. And if they are smart enough, they just might want a different, safer, line of work.

His main focus on “red and white farm use tags,” may seem like an unusual topic but here in Virginia, in this mostly rural and agriculturally rich area, he gets asked about tags a lot. Farm use tags are cheaper and don’t have to be renewed annually—plus you don’t have to have the vehicle inspected. So there are financial savings in just buying the tag once and using it forevermore.  I’m not sure what the rules or colors of “farm use” tags are in other states or if people there also cheat on the use of them. Locally we often see questionable “farm use tags” on vehicles that don’t look like they are used primarily on the farm. The trooper and his staff also take a lot of gaff from those pulled over for infractions related to using the “farm use” designation, as in “Why pull me over for this: don’t ya’ll have anything better to do?”

Some examples of violations concerning the tags? “You can’t run your red and white farm use tags to town to get a part for your tractor and then stop in at the convenience store for a case of beer.” That’s not considered an “essential food,” he added in case there was any doubt.

But as he said, the main reason these laws exist is to keep roads and people safe, and that is why he does what he does, to keep highways safer for all. In Successful Farming magazine (April 2016) I read about one man who never worried about getting his farm use truck inspected—until a hydraulic line ruptured and his truck rushed rapidly toward a highway. He chose to crash the truck into a tree rather than risk endangering those on the highway.

There are other true stories and tragedies, of course, related to stupidity on the highway. This trooper said he will never forget how after a fatal accident, they discovered the man’s cell phone was still playing the porn he was watching when he veered off the road.

On the “don’t try this” end of things, he told how a high school kid who didn’t have a car to drive was putting “farm use” tags on a truck and driving it with his friends during spring break when his parents were at work, and then changed the tags back to regular tags before they came home. On the “too many times to count” list is people driving vehicles with no insurance, no title, no inspection and being irked to be found out.

We all make careless mistakes in driving. Sometimes they turn out ok, sometimes we are pulled over, and sometimes they turn out tragically. Let this be a reminder to wise up, keep our minds always focused on our driving and not be distracted by the radio, the coffee, finishing our grooming, or the cell phone.

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Comments or stories? What are the practices and rules in your state, province, or area? What have you observed?

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Or, perhaps you have farm use tags and use them legally. Have you ever been pulled over, rightly or wrongly?

Comment here to write to me at anotherwaymedia@yahoo.com or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at FindingHarmonyBlog.com a week after newspaper publication.  

 

 

 

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4 Comments
  1. Craig Anderson permalink

    Here vehicles for agricultural use also can use MUCH cheaper (lower tax) fuel. Some who take advantage or unfair advantage of this link it to their identity as “poor” farmers. Now I think we owe our farmers A LOT. They work hard, and take many risks–all so that I can eat well without even getting my hands dirty. And some are poor. But many are definitely not! But many of the latter still think and claim that they are (among the poor). Late model extreme luxury vehicles with and without farm plates, annual trips to warm places, etc., need to be acknowledged as signs one is not poor. But that identity can run so deep. Non-agricultural business owners, too, often steal from the common purse in how they manipulate their taxes, pay family members very handsomely for nearly nonexistent jobs, write off tools and vehicles, etc. We humans, including us Mennos, have such high capacity for self-deception.

  2. I think here in Va. farmers can also get cheaper fuel on the farm. I agree we owe our farmers much and I certainly don’t begrudge the benefits of cheaper permanent farm use tags. Thanks for explaining how it works in Canada. And you point out that non-ag business owners often have certain advantages, whether ethical or not. Your last line–is so true–for all of us, Menno, Pressies, whatever faith or denomination or ethnic group. I appreciate you taking the time to add to any dialogue here. Hope all is well!

  3. Melodie, I included this issue in one of my blog posts last year. I was shocked but not surprised to see this exception to the rule when we moved to VA. I believe WV has it, too. I have seen these vehicles far and wide across the state, and most are not on “farm use” missions, especially when they pass me on I-81, and I’m going 75. To me, it’s part of the anti-government, anti-tax mentality that has successfully lobbied the legislature for this privilege to avoid the rules the rest of us have to follow.

    • I need to go back and check your post! Interesting rules here in Va. huh. I think the trooper had mixed feelings about the issue and enforcing the laws–and indeed they do have “better things to do with their time” than pull over for these violations, but you put your finger on a very possible under-thread regarding blatant disobeying of those laws. My hubby gets so irked when he sees vehicles not on “farm use” missions! Thanks for sharing.

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