Proposed Rules Set for Drone Use in Agriculture: Public Comment Open Until April 24

Writer(s): 

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Farmers who want to use drones in their operations have until April 24 to voice their opinion before the Federal Aviation Administration closes the comment period on rules it has proposed for the use of unmanned aircraft systems.

The FAA last month published proposed regulations that would govern the use of small UAS in agriculture and other enterprises, said Peggy Hall, Ohio State University Extension’s agricultural and resource law field specialist.

The rules would require operators to comply with a certification process, which includes passing an exam. Operators would also have to register and maintain the aircraft, and follow limitations on aircraft operation, said Hall, who is also an assistant professor for OSU Extension.  

OSU Extension is the outreach arm of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University.

“The good news is that FAA is going to create a special category that allows for small drone usage, which right now is not permitted unless you have a special exemption from FAA,” Hall said. “The primary concerns for agriculture use are the proposed visual line-of-sight requirement, which requires that operators maintain visual contact with aircraft, a flight ceiling of 500 feet above ground level and no nighttime flights.

“I would expect the agriculture community to have the most comments on these provisions.”

Hall said the proposed rules also do not address the misuse of drones for surveillance activities, as FAA says it doesn’t have the legal authority to address the issue.

“That’s a concern for many in the agricultural community who worry about the potential use of drones for surveillance activities that violate a property owner’s privacy,” she said.

While the FAA will accept public comment on the proposed rules until April 24, issuance of final rules for drone use likely won’t come until at least next year, Hall said.

More information on the proposed rules can be found in a post by Hall on OSU Extension’s Agriculture Law and Taxation blog at aglaw.osu.edu/blog/archive/201502.  Public comments on the proposed FAA rules can be made at www.regulations.gov (search for “UAS”).

Writer(s): 
Tracy Turner
614-688-1067
For more information, contact: 

Peggy Hall
614-247-7898
aglaw@osu.edu