Michigan Farm News: Sen. Peters introduces legislation calling for ag representation on FAA’s Drone Policy Board

Under legislation introduced by U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (MI), agriculture and forestry could soon have a seat on the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)’s chief drone policy committee.

The Drone Advisory Committee for the 21st Century Act, which Peters introduced with Senators John Thune (R-SD) and Pat Roberts (R-KS), would also ensure that the FAA provides representation for local government officials, including those from county and tribal governments, on the Drone Advisory Committee (DAC).

Since it was first announced in 2016, the DAC has never included a representative from the agriculture or forestry sector. In 2017, complaints were raised about the Committee’s lack of transparency.

In June, Peters and Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee Chairman Roger Wicker wrote to the FAA to request broader representation on the Committee for the agriculture, forestry, and rangeland sectors.

“As drones continue to become a part of everyday commerce, it will be increasingly important that our federal policies do not leave out the voices of rural America,” said Peters, a member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. “Our bipartisan effort will elevate the voices of agriculture, forestry, and other drone users so that our policies foster economic growth and continue to spur innovation.”

The legislation has widespread support from production agriculture, said John Kran, national legislative counsel for the Michigan Farm Bureau, adding that drones have become a critical part of agriculture — from crop protection to improving nutrient use and increasing yields.

“As more farmers depend on drone services, Senator Peters’ bill will give farmers a seat at the table with other industries and manufacturers to help shape the best policies for the evolving drone technology, and ultimately help farmers stay competitive in a global economy,” Kran said.

The Drone Advisory Committee for the 21st Century Act would also establish a public nomination process to help facilitate increased participation and broader user representation on the DAC, and would impose transparency requirements to ensure that the DAC’s work becomes part of the public record.

In addition to Michigan Farm Bureau, the legislation has the support of 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, and the National Association of Counties.

By:  Dennis Rudat
Source: Michigan Farm News