Mississippi farmers who hire out-of-state contract haulers to help move this year’s crops to market should make sure those haulers comply with the state’s licensing and fuel laws.

Otherwise, delays could result if they’re stopped for violations by Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) enforcement officers.

“We’re going to be paying close attention to these trucks during harvest season,” says Willie Huff, director of MDOT’s Office of Enforcement, who discussed the agency’s regulations at the joint annual meeting of the Delta Council Ginning and Cotton Quality Committee and the Southern Cotton Ginners Association.

Out-of-state trucks must have either a three-day trip permit or temporary Mississippi tag, he says, they have to buy fuel in Mississippi, and the driver must have a valid commercial driver’s license and proper insurance.

“If one of these trucks is stopped for a violation, it can increase the amount of time in transporting your crop, or even stop delivery for that day, until they get in compliance,” Huff says.

 “Last year, we stopped an extraordinary number of out-of-state trucks that didn’t have Mississippi apportioned or temporary tags,” Huff says, “so please talk with your contract haulers and encourage them to comply with these regulations.”

All trucks, whether out-of-state or in-state, must observe and comply with all posted weight limits for roads and bridges, he says.

“We understand your need to get your crops from the field to the elevator or market as quickly as possible, given the variables of weather, economics, river stages, and other factors, and we want to cooperate with you to make this possible.

“We don’t want to have your truck stopped on the side of the road for 30 minutes or more when you’re trying to get your crops to the elevator or port. We’ve had several meetings over the last year or more, working through ways to facilitate your crop movement and carry out our duties in a less time-consuming manner.

“At the same time, we’re charged with enforcing the regulations the state has in place to protect our roads and bridges infrastructure, and it’s critical that we have your assistance in doing this.”

The situation with ageing roads and bridges in Mississippi is “critical,” Huff says. “MDOT has about 200 posted bridges on state highways, the vast majority on 3-numbered highways, but some on 2-numbered and 1-numbered. Counties and cities have over more 3,000 bridges that are posted.

“We have an interactive map on our website, showing all the MDOT-posted bridges, weight limits, axle limits, etc. I would suggest your check this map for the route your truck will go and plan accordingly.”

But, he says, there are no maps for the posted county and city bridges, and drivers need to watch out for these signs and observe the posted limits. There are about 150 wooden pile bridges on state highways, and weight limits on these can be quite low. There are also many such bridges on county roads. “This can present a quandary in many areas of the state in choosing a route for your trucks.”