Use of Dyed Fuel in Ag Vehicles Again Practical

In 2007, Country Focus reported on changes in the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulations that reduced the allowable sulfur content of diesel fuel that could be purchased for use in vehicles and equipment. The regulations imposed a two-phase reduction of sulfur content of diesel fuel purchased in bulk for purposes other than heating, with the first phase imposed in June of that year.

EPA’s regulations created a serious dilemma for many farmers purchasing dyed diesel fuel in bulk to use in their farm vehicles.  In 2007, the presence of dye in diesel fuel indicated that the fuel had not been taxed and that it contained a higher sulfur content that could be used in non-road vehicles.

Interpretations of federal and state tax laws authorized tax-exempt dyed diesel fuel to be used in Pennsylvania farm trucks with biennial exemptions from registration (farm stickered trucks), as well as in farm tractors and other implements of husbandry.

In December of 2010, the EPA initiated the second phase of sulfur reductions in diesel fuel used on the nation’s highways.  The EPA assigned a maximum level of 15 ppm sulfur in undyed, taxable diesel fuel for highway use classified as Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel fuel (ULSD). The same standard of 15 ppm sulfur is being phased in by the EPA for dyed, tax-exempt diesel fuel for non-road use which will be implemented nationwide by October 1, 2014. However, the ULSD fuel standard for non-road use applies now in the Northeast Mid-Atlantic (NEMA) compliance area which includes most of Pennsylvania. Dyed fuel fully meeting EPA’s low-sulfur requirements may be used in implements of husbandry, off-road farm equipment and farm-stickered trucks.

Keep in mind those trucks with truck registrations (trucks with farm plates and commercial plates) are still prohibited from using dyed fuel. Federal regulations also require fuel pumps dispensing diesel fuel from tanks with a capacity of 550 gallons or more display EPA and IRS labels for identifying the sulfur content and the tax-free status of the fuel. Additional information on labeling requirements is available on

Diesel fuel used for heating is not currently subject to the 15 ppm sulfur limitation. When purchasing dyed diesel fuel in bulk for use in your tax-exempt vehicles and farm equipment, you need to check with your fuel supplier to be sure the fuel you purchase does not exceed the 15 ppm sulfur limitation.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Can I use dyed fuel in my farm stickered vehicle (trucks with biennial exemptions from registration)?

Implements of husbandry, as well as farm stickered vehicles, may be operated with dyed fuel at or below 15ppm sulfur.

May I use dyed fuel in a vehicle with farm plates?

Registered vehicles, including farm plated vehicles, may not use dyed fuel.