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Ag will get seat at table in developing drone policy

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Bill heads to president that allows for ag representation on FAA’s drone policy committee.

The U.S. House passed bipartisan legislation Friday to ensure the Federal Aviation Administration's chief drone policy committee includes representation for agriculture, forestry and rural America.

Introduced by U.S. Sens. Gary Peters, D-Mich., John Thune, R-S.D., and Pat Roberts, R-Kan., who serves as the chairman of the Senate Agriculture, Forestry, and Nutrition Committee, the Drone Advisory Committee for the 21st Century Act would ensure that the FAA provides representation for local government officials, including those from county and tribal governments, on the Drone Advisory Committee.

The Drone Advisory Committee for the 21st Century Act would encourage public participation in the nomination process to increase broader user representation on the DAC and would emphasize transparency requirements to ensure that the DAC’s work becomes part of the public record.

Since it was first announced in 2016, the DAC has never included a representative from the agriculture or forestry sector and no representatives from county or tribal governments have been selected to the policy board. In 2017, complaints were raised about the Committee’s transparency. In June, Peters and the Chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee Roger Wicker wrote to the FAA to request broader representation on the Committee for the agriculture, forestry, and rangeland sectors.

“With more Michigan farmers and small business owners depending on drone technology to bolster their daily operations, it’s critical that rural representatives have a seat at the policy making table — especially when it impacts their bottom line and as they deal with unprecedented challenges related to the Coronavirus,” says Peters, who is also member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. “I am pleased that this commonsense bipartisan legislation is now headed to the President’s desk, and I look forward to working to making sure that we incorporate agriculture, forestry and rural perspectives across the state into drone policy decision making.”

Thune notes, “As technology becomes more sophisticated, farmers will increasingly rely on drones to assess, monitor, and manage their farm activities. Rural areas like South Dakota – where agriculture is the state’s top industry – deserve to have a seat at the table when it comes to making decisions on drone policies and best practices. I’m pleased this bill is headed to the president, bringing us one step closer to ensuring representation from rural areas on the Drone Advisory Committee.”

“Farm country has long felt the heavy hand of overregulation on their operations, so I’m pleased producers will have their chance to express input over drone regulations,” adds Roberts.

The legislation has the support of a number of organizations, including the Rural & Agriculture Council of America, American Forest Foundation, Michigan Forest Foundation, American Farm Bureau Federation, National Farmers Union, National Association of Corn Growers, United Egg Producers, U.S. Cattlemen’s Association, American Dairy Coalition, Michigan Corn Growers Association, National Association of Counties and the Michigan Farm Bureau.

“Today’s high-tech drone can now map, monitor, manage, and more. As these technologies continue to advance, we’ll need to ensure any proposed rules and regulations governing their use are compatible for their application in agriculture and forestry,” says Jack Alexander, president of the Rural & Agriculture Council of America.

“Drones have become an integral part of farming across the country, providing timely and precise agronomic information to guide crop protection and nutrient application management decisions that maximize yields and minimize environmental impact,” says Carl Bednarski, president of the Michigan Farm Bureau. “As more farmers adopt drone technology, Senator Peters’ bill will give farmers a seat at the table to help shape the best policies for an ever-evolving industry, and ultimately to help farmers stay competitive in a global economy.”

“Drones play an important role in many rapidly-advancing technologies used by farmers and agribusinesses, so it’s important to have agriculture at the table when the federal government considers drone policies,” says Chuck Lippstreu, president, Michigan Agri-Business Association. “As our members across Michigan deploy groundbreaking new applications for drones, we appreciate U.S. Senator Gary Peters for his bipartisan leadership to help ensure the FAA takes agriculture into the equation on drone policies.”

Source: Office of Sens. Gary Peters, John Thune and Pat Roberts  The source is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

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