Thursday, April 30, 2015
Washington–Farmers and ranchers are eager to use airborne drones to improve their businesses, but they need flexibility to use these tools to their full potential, the American Farm Bureau Federation told the Federal Aviation Administration in comments focusing on performance-based standards, in its rule on the “Operation and Certification of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems.”
Farmers and ranchers have increased their yields while reducing their environmental footprint, thanks to advances in precision agriculture. “Drones are the next evolution in American agriculture,” said Dale Moore, AFBF executive director of public policy. “Used properly they let us grow more food on available land using less water and fewer pesticides. High-tech cameras and other airborne sensors give us important tools with which to reduce erosion and keep agricultural runoff to the absolute minimum. This is important not just for farmers but for anyone else who cares deeply about the environment. These tools won’t do anyone any good if they’re grounded by restrictions that make them too cumbersome to use.”
Farmers need performance-based standards for drone use that promote innovation while keeping safety a top priority, the Farm Bureau wrote. For all the good they do, new technologies are not without risk, Farm Bureau told regulators. Farmers and ranchers need to be able to manage these tools safely and should be assured that their farm data is secure and cannot be used unfairly against them. Added Moore: “Farmers and ranchers are ready to unlock the potential of new technologies in agriculture, and we’re hopeful that the FAA’s final rule gives them a key to do that safely and quickly.”
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