U.S. Sen. Gary Peters of Michigan introduced bipartisan legislation to ensure the Federal Aviation Administration’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 Sens. John Thune (S.D.) and Pat Roberts (Kan.), would also ensure that the FAA provides representation for local government officials, including those from county and tribal governments, on the Drone Advisory Committee.
“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.”
“As technology becomes more sophisticated, farmers will increasingly rely on drones to assess, monitor, and manage their farm activities,” said Thune. “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.”
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.
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.