(Guelph, ON) On October 31st, the National Farmers Union – Ontario and other stakeholders met with the Ministry of Transportation and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs to discuss rural transportation issues affecting farmers. On behalf of members, NFU-O President Emery Huszka raised important concerns about half load road restrictions, rail lines and line of sight, and farm equipment visibility.
In 2015, NFU members passed a resolution calling for a federal standard minimum of 750 meters of open line of sight each way on rail property regardless of protection or lack thereof. Huszka explained, “Farmers with fully loaded farm equipment must often deal with restricted lines of sight and in many cases also contend with elevated grades. This practice of pulling loads up high grades and over crossings impedes farmers’ ability to safely move loads. This can easily be fixed in many cases with a better standard for level approaches to rail crossings and cutting down brush to improve visibility.”
Regarding half loads, Huszka noted, “Farmers need to have access to roads with minimal reasonable restrictions. As of now, some municipalities adopt calendar-based half load limits when roads may, in fact, be fit for use. Farming happens 365 days a year, and we are advocating for a review of the half load limit process, proper funding for municipal road construction, and ongoing dialogue which will better identify truly unfit roads.”
Other attendees raised important concerns regarding designing roundabouts, streamlining farm plate acquisition, and preserving key passages over 400 series highways, specifically the Glanworth crossing at Talbotville. Huszka stated, “Minister Leal has taken a constructive step by opening the discussion, and the NFU-O looks forward to additional opportunities to address these and many other common challenges as we aim to improve rural safety for our communities while respecting farm-specific needs for transportation.”