Some farmers in Marathon County say the state’s truck weight regulations are unfair and fines for hauling manure on county roads are unjust. Dairy farmers say they are being unfairly targeted and will fight back by holding snowmobile trails that travel across their farm land hostage.
Regulations say gross vehicle weight cannot be more than 80,000 lbs. while driving on state roads. According to the Marathon County Sheriff’s Department, six tickets were issued to manure haulers in the last six months. The Wisconsin State Patrol is still gathering the number of citations they’ve issued. Some farmers say the measurement is skewed. Don Radtke, from the Farmers Bureau State Board of Directors says the weight limit is set up with semis in mind, not manure tankers.
Milo Gordon of the Frankfort Freedom Riders snowmobile club in Marathon County says he understands the farmers are frustrated, but wished they wouldn’t take it out on them. According to local snowmobile clubs the majority of their trails run through farm fields. If they can't groom their trails in those areas they won't get the necessary funds the state provides them for
maintaining each trail.
Representative Jerry Petrowski from the 86th Assembly District says he has drafted a new bill that would allow manure tankers to haul up to fifteen percent more than the allowed weight of 80,000 lbs. making the new carry limit 92,000 lbs. if the bill is passed. During a phone interview, Rep. Petrowski said, “The reality is these heavy loads 140,000- 150,000 lbs. are going to be damaging to the roads and somebody is going to have to pay to fix the roads. I think everybody needs to be responsible in this."
Farmers say threatening to close down their fields to snowmobile trails this winter will bring attention to the issue. The Farmers Bureau says they’ll continue to hold meetings to come up with a resolution.