Taking Stock: Long Time Coming

Let’s start off with a note of thanks to Congress for recent passage of the farm bill. It took two years of stops and starts before the House and Senate reached a bipartisan consensus. It was a long time coming but the benefits appear to justify the wait.

John Keeling’s column on Page 36 discusses the positive measures in the bill that impact the potato industry. Now, maybe we can move forward on expansion of the shipping zone for potatoes into Mexico and inclusion of white potatoes in WIC vouchers.

We’re trying something a little different in this month’s issue. Instead of the traditional grower profile anchoring the April issue, we’re focusing on the topic of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) as the centerpiece.

Known by a variety of acronyms, UAS, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), or drones, they’ve created quite a debate across the country.

In this special report, on Page 10 we spoke with a variety of individuals about the potential for UAS and the impact of UAS within the agricultural community. Researchers at Hermiston, Ore., see great potential in new methods for identifying and treating diseases and pests at an individual level

The future looks very promising for these aerial applicators but the safety and privacy concerns are very real and until they are addressed, the Federal Aviation Administration will tightly regulate commercial applications in civil air space.

Let me know if you would like to see more issue-oriented features like this in the future and what issues you want to see addressed.

— By Bill Schaefer, editor

Originally posted Monday, Mar. 24, 2014