After hearing objections from county constituents and the Wisconsin Milk Haulers Association, the Chippewa County Highway Committee, Chippewa County Board of Supervisors, and the Chippewa County Highway Commissioner walked back a rather short-lived $100 permit fee for milk haulers. However, even with that change, the county is still requiring milk haulers to obtain an oversized load permit to haul on its county roads.

After being asked about the matter at the Chippewa County Board Meeting on March 14, 2023, Brian Kelley, Chippewa County Highway Commissioner shared that 12 milk haulers had come to his office so far to obtain 26 permits for trucks. The higher permit numbers were due to milk haulers owning more than one truck. In making the statement, it was also clear some truckers were sitting on the sidelines waiting for further resolution on this matter.

To read about the entire exchange, read Chippewa scuttles milk hauling fees.

“One company said they didn’t want to pay the fee because they have eight trucks. So, they came in and got two (permits),” said Kelley during the monthly county board meeting. “I think there is some of that, too, where they didn’t get all their trucks permitted,” he said, “We did get some comments that they (milk haulers) would be in for more permits if there were not permit fees,” continued the Chippewa County Highway Commissioner.

Became a sticking point

“We started this discussion after we had serious road damage in the county,” shared Chippewa County Board Supervisor Glen Sikorski. “We at that point said, ‘Wow, we don’t want milk haulers singled out. This was done with the absolute best of intentions,” said the one-time dairy farmer. “It bothers me that the sticking point became the $100 fee.

“Every permit in the Highway Department is about $100. Today, $100 does not get you far,” said Sikorski. “When I think of all the years I spent my 15-cent checkoff on milk marketing, I feel this was a much better investment. I think the milk haulers feel it’s a good investment.

“Unfortunately, it became too political, and I think we are better off washing our hands of it, because, as a county, if they are on a road and crossed over to the next county, they (milk haulers) are violating again,” Sikorski said, making reference to state statutes. “We tried to take on too much here. We need to let them get this (done) at the state level,” said Sikorski in making comments on the state legislature potentially exempting milk trucks from spring road bans. Currently, only septic, public utility, and propane trucks are exempt from road weight limits under state statutes.

An appropriate decision

“Thank you to the Highway Committee for taking the fee down to $0,” said Chippewa County Board Supervisor Jason Bergeron. “I don’t think every fee should be $0. However, I think it’s obvious that we are potentially getting in a bit over our heads. We shined a light on a problem that we didn’t know existed, but now we need to deal with the repercussions of that. I think the $0 fee is more than appropriate.”

As for the permit itself, Bergeron supported that idea.

“We have the best of intentions. It feels like in the broader picture of what’s going on that we are jumping the gun,” said Bergeron in discussing the entire milking hauling matter. Bergeron also added, “I do understand the need for this permit so that our milk haulers are not open to liability for these increased enforcements."

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(c) Hoard's Dairyman Intel 2023
March 16, 2023

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