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July 8, 2014

FAA Continues Work on Drones Regulations

For more information on Newsline, contact: Kari Barbic, Media Specialist, American Farm Bureau Federation, karib@fb.org.

The agriculture industry continues to wait for the Federal Aviation Administration to institute regulations for the safe integration of unmanned aircraft systems into the National Airspace System. Seanica Otterby has the story.
OtterbyThe FAA recently released a Notice of Interpretation of the Special Rule for Model Aircraft clarifying the difference between a hobby use and non-hobby use of unmanned aircraft systems, or drones. American Farm Bureau rural development specialist R.J. Karney explains what this clarification means for farmers and ranchers.
KarneyIf a farmer just wants to use a unmanned aircraft system to view crops or a field that their family are going to consume, they can utilize that technology. But if it is for a commercial farming operation, the farmer’s going to take that product and sell it to a consumer, then they can no longer utilize that technology according to the FAA.
OtterbyKarney says there are many practical on-farm uses for drones that would benefit farmers and ranchers.
KarneyOne of the primary uses will be for aerial photography. What a farmer can do is place an infrared camera on a unmanned aircraft system. The infrared technology will be able to check the crops for diseases that the farmer then can go and tackle at a quicker pace than having to walk the field.
OtterbyThe FAA is pursuing integration of commercial drone flights by September 2015, but Karney says the Office of Inspector General has released an audit indicating it’s unlikely the FAA will meet the deadline due to a lack of staff and funding. He says the technology currently outpaces rules and regulations.
KarneyJapan, for example, has been utilizing unmanned aircraft system for agriculture since the late 1980s, and we don’t want our farmers and ranchers to fall even further behind with the use of this technology.
OtterbySeanica Otterby, Washington.

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