Farmers and ranchers are eager to use drones to improve their businesses but need flexibility to use the tools to their full potential, the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) told the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
The AFBF submitted comments during the 60-day public-comment period (ended April 24) for the FAA’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for small unmanned aerial systems (UAS).
Thanks to advances in precision agriculture, the AFBF says, farmers and ranchers have increased their yields and reduced their environmental footprint. However, farmers need performance-based standards that promote innovation while keeping safety a top priority, the Farm Bureau wrote in its comments.
“Drones are the next evolution in American agriculture,” says Dale Moore, AFBF’s 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,” he explains.
For all the good they do, new technologies are not without risk, the AFBF told the FAA. 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.
Moore adds, “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.”
The Farm Bureau’s full comments can be found here.