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Congress's Ban on DJI Drones is a Big Miss for American Agriculture and Why We Must Stop It Now

Updated: Jun 20

Congress's Ban on DJI Drones is a Big Miss for Farmers
"It's Not About Beating China, it's About Boosting America" - Michelle Truman, President of Farm-i-tude

SCOTTSDALE, AZ (June 19, 2024) – H.R.2864 (Stefanik) is a bill tagged on the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act of 2019, coming out of sub committee and went to the committee for a vote on Thursday, June 14, 2024, passing 57 -1, and out of the House of Representatives inculding the Countering CCP Drones Act, by a narrow margin of 217-199. .  The bill is seeking to ban DJI (Shenzhen Da-Jiang Innovations Sciences and Technologies Company Limited) drones for all users and ignoring drones' vital role in precision agriculture.  “This non-informed, short-sighted ban would directly harm American farmers and ranchers, stifle our global competitiveness in this sector, and do little to improve national security,” said Michelle Truman, President of Farm-i-tude.

The bill would block federal funding for DJI drones and revoke their FCC authorization--there are no viable American-made alternatives at the scale agriculture needs. If DJI is added, no DJI drone, existing or new, could legally operate in the United States. This ban would impact all DJI users, from hobbyists to those in critical and non-critical fields.

"American farmers have invested millions of dollars in DJI technology. A sudden ban would render their drones, software, and training worthless. Most troubling is the loss of productivity," said Don Wakamatsu, a 3rd generation farmer and former MLB coach.   "DJI drones use green technology, increase crop yields, streamline pesticide applications, and dramatically improve scouting. Farmers would be forced back to less efficient, more costly methods, cutting their bottom line. Since many farmers spearhead tech upgrades in rural communities, a ban has a ripple effect, harming progress for everyone."  

 Farm-i-tude, Wakamatsu's non-profit foundation, was one of the only 30 companies at the time to get an FAA 137, which allowed them to fly and disperse chemicals from the air. "The technology has grown to 3.7 million acres sprayed by drones in 2023 in 41 states covering 50 different crops," continued Wakamatsu. "It's hard to get a job at McDonalds when there is no McDonald's. Our Farm-i-tude curriculum is now available in over 2,200 high schools, creating entrepreneurs in farming and ranching communities.”

It's unwise to frame bans as a patriotic solution. True strength lies in supporting American companies to outperform competitors. While concerns about crop data security are valid, there are smarter solutions. An immediate ban only creates chaos and leaves farmers scrambling. It doesn't truly address how data is used or protected. Ultimately, we must ask ourselves: does a ban make us safer, or does it just benefit our global competitors with little security gain for the U.S.?

"This ban cripples our future in agricultural technology. Instead of developing a skilled American drone workforce, we block innovation," said Michelle Truman.  America could be the global leader in agricultural drones, setting standards that protect both farmers and national security. However, this ban cedes that position, forcing us to play catch-up instead of leading the way."

Truman continued, “rather than bans, we should implement strong data security standards for all agricultural drones, regardless of origin. We need focused tax breaks and government grants to support American drone manufacturers targeting the needs of our farmers. America should lead in setting international security standards for agricultural drones, allowing us to influence the entire market and protect our security interests.”

  • Data Protection is Key: Regulations should mandate high-level encryptions for all agricultural drone data to ensure its protection.

  • Farmers in Control: Farmers must have clear visibility into what data is collected and the ability to control how it's used or shared.

  • Enforcement Through Audits: Regular third-party audits of drone manufacturers and software providers will guarantee compliance with these standards.

"It's not about beating China; it's about boosting America.  Focusing on bans distracts from the real competitive threat: American agriculture's falling behind. By creating better relationships with each of our state departments of agriculture, thereby leading us to our state legislatures, we can educate how H.R. 2864 is defeating policies that put America's farmers first," said Michelle Truman.


About the Author

Michelle Truman - Agricultural Drone Expert

Michelle Truman is an entrepreneur and top business executive in entertainment and professional sports. In 2016, she and her business partner, Don Wakamatsu, a former MLB manager and third-generation farmer, launched the WakWay Foundation (https://www.wakway.org). During spring training, they distributed over 200,000 servings of fruit and vegetables to the inner city. Together, through that project, they saw a need for technology in farming to decrease waste input and created Farm-i-tude (https://www.farmitude.org/). 

Today, Farm-i-tude has tested over 200 drone pilots in 38 states in the last year alone, flown over 28,000 missions, and logged over 4,000 hours in the air. Additionally, the Farm-i-tude curriculum is now available in over 2,000 schools under the ACTE program, which supports the next generation of farmers through technology. 

Due to her extensive experience in the industry, she has been invited to speak on the importance of using drones in agriculture. Moreover, her team has recently developed a new logbook that tackles all the problems they faced with the previous logbooks available in the market.

Michelle and her team have recently created the first and only pilot association for agriculture pilots and set the standards for safety at U.PASS: Unmanned Pilot Association for Safety Standards (https://www.upass.foundation). She currently serves on that board.

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