Could drones be used to monitor agricultural activity in the future? As farmers continually work to be transparent to consumers about the work they do, this could blur the line on a farmer’s right to privacy. Todd Janzen, attorney at Plews Shadley Racher and Braun, says this topic is far from new.
“I think there will certainly be a time when EPA and perhaps other federal agencies will be tempted to use drones because they’re inexpensive, cover a lot of ground and do a lot of research for them.”
What is the difference between a drone and someone flying over your property and snapping photos?
“I think the answer is two-fold. One: should anyone or anything being flying over at all? The other question: how would a drone be able to discriminate between the curtilage in someone’s home and an open field?”
Janzen says this issue will only continue to become more popular.
“Drones are becoming so inexpensive. They’re potential for agriculture is pretty amazing when you think about the ability for even a farmer to use drones for their own fields.”
Janzen says just because things can be monitored, doesn’t mean that they necessarily should be. He offers advice to farmers who may have a drone flying over their property.
“I would never advocate taking the law into your own hands, but I’m sure some people might be tempted if they see a drone flying overhead. The smart thing to do is to figure out where it’s coming from and talk to the agency or individual in the first instance.”
While Janzen says he can’t confirm this is happening anywhere just yet, he believes it will be a common practice in the future.
You can read Janzen’s article on drones under the Ag Law Page.