White House sees big benefits for agriculture in new drone rule

The agriculture industry will be one of the first beneficiaries of the final rules released for governing the commercial use of unmanned aircraft, the White House says in a statement. The rules, which go into effect 30 days after publication, establish a framework for drones that weigh less than 55 pounds and make it easier to obtain approval to operate them, including not requiring a private pilot's license or the waiver process the Federal Aviation Administration has administered until now. Under the rules, drones must stay within the operator's visual line of sight, which the agriculture industry has said can be problematic for farmers with large amounts of land. But the FAA will consider waiving many of the rule's restrictions - except maximum weight, height and speed. See the White House fact sheet on the final rule.