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Senator Johanns Introduces Bill to Ban Aerial Farm Surveillance

There’s new opposition to the federal government using remote-controlled planes to spy on cattle ranchers in Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, and Kansas. Republican Senator Mike Johanns, who is from Nebraska, has introduced a new bill that would ban the use of aerial drones by the EPA, this after recent revelations that the agency is using unmanned aircraft to make sure ranchers are not contaminating the water supply.

Johanns has said, “EPA’s surveillance program only adds to the deficit of trust this closed-door agency has earned of late. It’s past time for Congress to put an end to EPA’s use of aerial surveillance.”

The story made headlines last week when reports surfaced that the EPA was using drones to spy on ranchers. The EPA fired back saying that they were not using drones, but were in fact, using single-engine Cessnas.

CORRECTION: According to a spokesperson in the office of Sen. Johanns, the bill introduced and discussed in this post would ban all aerial surveillance by manned aircraft, not drones or remote-controlled planes. Below is the full text of the statement put out by Sen. Johanns's office on Tuesday:

"Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) today introduced an amendment to the farm bill banning the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) use of aerial surveillance after the agency failed to provide comprehensive answers about the program’s use nationwide.

“This is a trust issue, and farmers and ranchers don’t trust EPA doing low-level surveillance flights over their operations,” Johanns said. “EPA’s surveillance program only adds to the deficit of trust this closed-door agency has earned of late. It’s past time for Congress to put an end to EPA's use of aerial surveillance.”

Johanns’ amendment specifically prohibits EPA from conducting aerial surveillance to inspect or to record images of agricultural operations. The amendment does not affect the use of traditional on-site inspections."

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