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August 22, 2014

By Jeff Helms

(334) 613-4212

Fulton demonstrates a UAV at the Autauga County farm of Andy Wendland.

MONTGOMERY, Ala., Aug. 22 — Alabama Farmers Federation President Jimmy Parnell today praised Gov. Robert Bentley’s leadership in creating the Alabama Drone Task Force.

“Unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, have the potential to help farmers better manage crops and livestock,” Parnell said. “We appreciate the governor’s proactive efforts to explore how we can best use this technology while protecting private property rights.”

Creation of the task force follows a June announcement by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) effectively grounding drones for commercial use. The task force is chaired by Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries John McMillan and includes Alabama Department of Transportation Director John Cooper, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Director Gunter Guy, Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Secretary Spencer Collier and Montgomery Airport Authority Board Member Jimmy Reynolds.

In a release, Bentley said, “I believe drone use can benefit the state now and for generations to come, because drones offer many advantages to help our farmers and law enforcement agencies be successful.”

“The governor’s statement and choice of Commissioner McMillan to lead this group shows his interest in helping provide farmers the tools they need to be more successful,” Parnell said.

Agricultural researchers have worked with Alabama farmers to demonstrate how drones can be paired with video cameras and sophisticated mapping software to provide producers better information about irrigation, soil conditions, plant health, animal care and pest management.

“The thing about a UAV is that it gives you a whole new perspective when we talk about agriculture,” said John Fulton, former Alabama Farmers Federation professor in the Department of Biosystems Engineering at Auburn University. “There’s a tremendous amount of opportunity to collect data or images, check cows or go out after a rain to see where water is standing.”

The task force is scheduled to hold its first meeting Aug. 29 in Montgomery.

Click here for Gov. Bentley’s news release.

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