Farmers thrash idea of commercial licenses Tim Strobel has been driving a tractor for 20 years, so he's a bit puzzled that federal officials are kicking around an idea that could ultimately force him - and anyone else operating farm machinery - to get a commercial driver's license. Yes, the same kind of license that interstate truckers must have to operate their rigs. "I am not against some training, but this is going a little bit overboard," said Strobel, a dairy farmer from Watertown. The U.S. Department of Transportation has been collecting public comments on the notion, which the agency insists doesn't yet merit being called a "proposal." But it's far enough along that the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation, state Agriculture Secretary Ben Brancel, and a bipartisan group of 21 U.S. senators, among others, are speaking out against it. Farm Bureau officials say Transportation Department proposals aimed at reclassifying agricultural machinery as commercial motor vehicles could lead to a requirement that farmers get a commercial license to move equipment on roads between fields and to their local grain mills. It's "overreaching and unnecessary," said Karen Gefvert, Wisconsin Farm Bureau director of governmental relations. The additional public safety gained from increased federal regulation is unclear at best, but the additional costs for farmers would come at a time when they could least afford them, Brancel said in a letter to federal officials. In one scenario, farmers hauling grain to local elevators would be treated as if they were engaged in interstate commerce because grain, in many cases, eventually leaves the state.