A group of senators got legislation passed Friday that will require the Federal Aviation Administration to include representation from "agriculture, forestry and rural America" on the drone policy advisory committee.
The bill was led by retiring Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, as well as Sens. Gary Peters, D-Mich., and John Thune, R-S.D.
The FAA has maintained a Drone Advisory Committee for the 21st Century Act. Under the bill, FAA would have to open that group up to include more representation from agriculture, forestry and rural America, as well as representation for local government officials, including those from county and tribal governments, on the Drone Advisory Committee (DAC).
“Drones are another tool in the toolkit for agricultural producers to run a more sophisticated and efficient operation,” Roberts said. “I'm proud this bipartisan legislation gives farmers a seat at the table when decisions are being made about drone policies.”
Peters added drones are "becoming integral to Michigan farms and businesses, it's important that farmers, and 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 this unprecedented public health and economic crisis,” Peters said.
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.
"As technology becomes more sophisticated, farmers will increasingly rely on drones to assess, monitor, and manage their farm activities," Thune said. “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 the Senate passed this bill to ensure representation from rural areas on the Drone Advisory Committee.”
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 Association of Corn Growers, United Egg Producers, U.S. Cattlemen's Association, American Dairy Coalition, and the National Association of Counties.
Chris Clayton can be reached at Chris.Clayton@dtn.com
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