Well, here comes another example of government regulations getting in the way. In one sense, the regs are way behind dealing with something that could and should be really helpful in so many ways, although Im focused on the agricultural aspects. At the same time, were seeing, especially right here in Michigan agriculture, an example of government regulations so far out of date as to be - - not useless - - which would be bad enough - - but detrimental - - even harmful.
Lets take the last one first. It is, of course a reference to the current discussions on the restrictions imposed by USDA on tart cherry production. Its nationwide, if you consider all those who enjoy food products that start with tart cherries. Its Michigan based when you consider that most of the tart cherry production in the entire nation is in Michigan - - in fact, in the northwestern part of the Lower Peninsula. The nubbin of the current discussion is found in a lawsuit brought by Burnette Foods, an Elk Rapids processing company, contending that the regulation in question is from the days of Franklin Roosevelts New Deal, and has no place in modern agriculture - - so far advanced from the days of 40 acres and a mule. I recall from several years ago, in a chat with a cherry grower in Van Buren County (not ALL tart cherries are grown around Traverse City!) Wherein that grower remarked on a second consecutive good year for cherries, noting that rarely happened. Perhaps that was the basis for the regulation that applies not to growers, but to processors, like Burnette Foods. So, when the restriction applies, growers still have to harvest the cherries, but if processing is restricted, a lot of cherries are laid waste on the ground. An interesting sidebar here; the cherry industry this spring had a chance to eliminate that restrictive regulation, but about two thirds of those voting elected to keep it. Go figure!
The other regulation at hand, is the one that doesnt yet exist - - control of drone aircraft.
There is, out and about, a Notice of Interpretation of the Special Rule for Model Aircraft. Farmers, Ranchers and all commercial operators - I presume that means UPSand FedEx, too - are prohibited from using UASs (unmanned aircraft systems) until the FAA institutes regulations for the safe integration of UASs into national airspace. Congress has said get it done by September next year (2015) but the office of Inspector General says its not likely FAA will meet that deadline.
If you plan to send up a drone to survey a field of a crop of some kind raised for your personal enjoyment, thats a hobby use of a drone; if that survey is performed to determine whether a commercial crop needs water, thats a non-hobby use.
Neither use is permissible until at least September next year, and probably not even then. Go figure!
Karl Guenther is a retired Kalamazoo farm broadcaster and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org . He is a member of Michigan Farm Bureau and an emeritus member of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting.