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Drone policy seeks ag representation

Senate bill ensures FAA encourages agricultural representatives’ input on Drone Advisory Committee.

The Senate Commerce, Science & Transportation Committee recently approved bipartisan legislation introduced last month by Sens. Pat Roberts (R., Kan.), Gary Peters (D., Mich.) and John Thune (R., S.D.) that is designed to ensure that federal drone policy includes representation for agriculture, forestry and rural America. The Drone Advisory Committee for the 21st Century Act would also ensure that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) provides representation on the Drone Advisory Committee (DAC) for local government officials, including those from county and tribal governments.

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 impose transparency requirements to ensure that the committee’s work becomes part of the public record.

“With drones becoming a part of everyday life for farmers and ranchers in not only Kansas but throughout the entire country, I am pleased to see this bipartisan legislation being advanced in the Senate,” Roberts said. “This bill will ensure rural Americans are included in the decision-making process when it comes to drone policies that will impact their businesses.”

“As more Michigan businesses and farmers incorporate drones into their everyday operations, it is critical that they have a seat at the table when decisions impacting them are being made,” Peters said. “This bipartisan measure will ensure that agriculture, forestry and rural voices have a say when new rules are established around these new technologies. I am pleased that the Senate is advancing this bipartisan effort, and I look forward to working with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to ensure that this commonsense legislation becomes law.”

“This bipartisan legislation, which promotes the consideration of agriculture and forestry applications in the development of future drone policy, cleared an important Senate hurdle today,” Thune said. “I urge my colleagues in both the House and the Senate to work together to get this legislation past the finish line to ensure our farmers and ranchers can fully utilize the unique applications of drone technology in their fields.”

“As the drone industry grows at a rapid rate, it is clear intergovernmental collaboration and solutions are needed to protect the safety and privacy of our residents,” said Matthew Chase, executive director of the National Association of Counties. “Across the country, counties are using this new technology for critical functions, including emergency response, infrastructure inspection, search and rescue and mapping. We applaud the bipartisan efforts of Sens. Peters, Thune and Roberts to ensure local governments are represented on the Federal Aviation Administration’s Drone Advisory Committee. County leaders must be at the table not just as stakeholders but as co-regulators.”

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

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