EPA Drone Use Worries Farmers

The political firestorm over the use of unmanned aerial drones in the United States has recently spread to the agricultural sector, with some farmers expressing concern over proposed Environmental Protection Agency use of drones to monitor agricultural production.

The domestic use of drones in the United States has been a hot button issue for some time. While many Americans support their use overseas, particularly as a military tool in the War on Terror, some Americans are more uneasy with their use on domestic soil.

In recent months, it has come out that the EPA has been using aerial drones to monitor agricultural production and gather information regarding the Clean Water Act. The EPA claims that the use of drones and aerial monitoring is a more cost-effective way of inspecting farms than relying on individual agents performing audits and inspections.

Some politicians and farmers, however, see the move as invasive and view it as a potential violation of farmers’ civil liberties. Nebraska Representative Jeff Fortenberry and several other politicians have voiced these concerns to EPA head Lisa Jackson in a bipartisan letter.

In the letter, Fortenberry asked Jackson for more information concerning the program, stating, “[We] wrote to you because farmers and ranchers have many serious concerns and questions, including many concerning privacy and freedom from unnecessary surveillance. The delegation had only limited information regarding the surveillance, which it sought to confirm or correct by soliciting specific answers directly from you.” The letter goes on to request a public hearing regarding the role of drones in agricultural and environmental regulations.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer