12.11.19

Peters’ Bipartisan Bill to Ensure Representation for Agriculture, Forestry, and Rural Sectors on FAA’s Drone Policy Board Advances in Senate

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) today applauded Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation approval of bipartisan legislation to ensure the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)’s chief drone policy committee includes representation for agriculture, forestry, and rural America. 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).

“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,” said Senator Peters, a member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. “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,” said Thune. “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.”

“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,” said Sen. Roberts. “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 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 Senators 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.”

“Drones have become a critical part of production 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 an ever-evolving industry, and ultimately to help farmers stay competitive in a global economy,” said John Kran, National Legislative Counsel for the Michigan Farm Bureau.

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 DAC’s work becomes part of the public record.

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

The legislation has the support of a number of organizations, including 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, National Association of Counties and the Michigan Farm Bureau.

Peters has long supported efforts in Congress to support Michigan farmers. Last month, the Senate unanimously approved bipartisan legislation Peters coauthored to address the shortage of agricultural inspectors who protect the nation’s food supply and agricultural industries at our nation’s borders. Peters has also been a leading voice in support of efforts by cherry growers across Michigan to prevent foreign competitors from deploying unfair trade practices, including dumping and subsidies on imported goods.

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