NSW Farmers survey reveals daily frustration of moving machinery on roads

OVERSIZE: Headers are a common site on local roads during harvest and sowing season, but moving them legally is no easy task.
OVERSIZE: Headers are a common site on local roads during harvest and sowing season, but moving them legally is no easy task.

Farmers have responded en masse to calls to cut red tape in the movement of agricultural machinery on roads. 

NSW Farmers recently conducted a landmark survey with Roads and Maritime Services, attracting 431 responses. 

The results will be submitted to the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator today as part of a review process to harmonise regulation in the formation of a National Agricultural Notice. Currently, permits are issued by five states.

“Farmers on the road want to be safe, the legislation has to be really clearly spelled-out and consistent so farmers know they're compliant and wont be fined and also that they're going to be doing the right thing by other road users,” NSW Farmers Regional Manager Simone Norrie said. 

Matong farmer Stephen Hatty said comprehending current permits is a frustrating and time-consuming task.

“It’s very difficult to find the right paperwork on the website, and then deciphering what it means when you do find it is a bit of a nightmare,” he said. 

He said he moves machinery nearly every day during harvest and sewing, with most trips within 20kms of his home. 

Travelling across local government areas also proves complicated with permits required from each local government area. The increasing size of machinery also poses a problem.

“Especially in the bigger cropping regions further north and west with eight or nine metre rigs- it’s impossible to comply,” Mr Hatty said. 

More than 90 per cent of farmers surveyed agreed “present regulations should take account of the future trends in machinery manufacturing.”

NSW Farmers’ data will be considered along with submissions from other industry bodies by the NHVR.

In the meantime, Ms Norrie said the diversification of the industry has meant there’s never a slow time of year and the general public should be made more aware. 

“Farmers aren’t doing this because it’s fun, it’s a stressful task,” she said. 

“Other road users need to recognise they need to be patient, pull off or drop their speed limit just until that vehicle passes.” 

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