Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association
Supply · Service · Stewardship

License Plates on Floaters - Enforcement Actions

For decades there has been a provision in the Illinois Vehicle Code that requires that self-propelled implements of husbandry have license plates if they are going to operate on the highway laden with load.  The law also states that in no case can the floaters/applicators be over 36,000 lbs whether loaded or empty, they must be operated within a 50 mile radius of their home base, and they cannot exceed 12 feet in width or travel over 30 mph.  
Recently, an IFCA member in Southern Illinois was cited by the Illinois State Police for having a load of lime on their floater, and in the process of being cited was also turned over to the IL Dept of Revenue for having dyed fuel in the tank of the floater, which could result in additional enforcement actions.   
There are several major concerns for our industry here.  First of all, this regulation is rarely enforced but it is very problematic when it is enforced.  Because clear diesel must be used in licensed highway vehicles, when you license your floaters to carry a load, you pay a higher price for the fuel because it is taxable.  You can get a refund from the IL Dept of Revenue and the IRS for the amount of the fuel that you burn in the field of application, but it takes paperwork to document this and in the case of the IL Dept of Revenue, they are so far behind in paying their bills that you can wait a long time to get your refund.  Therefore, most retailers have decided NOT to license their floaters and sprayers so that they can burn dyed fuel.  However, these units technically need to be empty when on the highway, and be tendered in the field of application by a licensed vehicle.  Click here to see the provision in the IL Vehicle Code that outlines these requirements.  
IFCA has reached out to the IL State Police to discuss this issue, especially with fall fertilizer season approaching.  It is IFCA's intention to attempt to remedy this matter in the IL Vehicle Code with legislation.  We are not sure why floaters, sprayers and ammonia nurse tanks were singled out decades ago and required to be licensed but they are clearly implements of husbandry and it would be much more simple to treat them as such and not require licensing or limit them otherwise.  Floaters, sprayers and nurse tanks are clearly exempt from sales tax whether or not they are licensed, and IFCA will ensure that remains the case.  
If you have been dealing with enforcement regarding license plates on floaters or sprayers please contact IFCA.  Right now your only avenue to legally operate laden with load for floaters and applicators is to get a $250 license plate from the Secretary of State and then burn taxable fuel in the equipment.  The fines for burning dyed fuel in a licensed vehicle are scary.  When attempting to get a license, you should bring with you the machine's certificate of origin to the SOS office and also take along this document which clearly states that these vehicles are exempt from sales tax.  
Please contact IFCA if you have questions.  We will do our best to improve this situation for our members.