Published online: May 23, 2013 Potato Harvesting, Potato Equipment
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BOISE, Idaho-A new Idaho law that takes effect July 1 aims to prevent people from using drones to spy on growers and ranchers.


A bill that has been signed into law by Gov. Butch Otter restricts people from using drones to spy on anyone but was crafted specifically with agriculture in mind, said its sponsor, Sen. Chuck Winder, R-Boise.


It's meant "to protect the agricultural community from unreasonable searches," said the Idaho Senate's assistant majority leader.


The bill was widely supported by the state's farming community, which sees increased drone use as inevitable but wants to ensure unmanned aerial vehicles aren't used against them for nefarious purposes.


"We want to make sure the private property of farming operations is protected and this piece of legislation does that," said Food Producers of Idaho president Roger Batt. Drones can do a lot of good, he added, "but it's also nice to know farming operations are protected."


The new law prevents any person, entity or state agency from using a drone to conduct surveillance or observation of private property "without reasonable, articulable suspicion of criminal conduct."


The bill allows individuals to use drones to take pictures or video of their own property, which is important for the growing number of growers who want to use that tool to improve their operations, said north Idaho grower Robert Blair.


SOURCE: Sean Ellis, Capital Press