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By Mary HightowerU of A System Division of Agriculture
(Editor's note: This article is meant for purely educational use it is not meant to
constitute legal advice.)
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The proliferation of remotely controlled aerial vehicles, or
drones, on the market has been accompanied by a rise in the number of questions about
what uses are legal.
Rusty Rumley, senior staff attorney for the National Agricultural Law Center, has
fielded more than a few questions about the subject. Here are three of the questions
he’s heard recently, and his answers:
Question: Do you have any practical advice for a farmer who discovers one of these devices
buzzing around in their buildings or home?
Rumley: “A landowner should never try to shoot them down. You can be sued to recover the
cost of the UAV and could potentially face criminal charges. You can contact law enforcement
because many current models of UAVs do not have extended ranges, and therefore the
person that is controlling it may be physically trespassing on someone's land in order
to launch it. You may also be able to sue the UAV operator for nuisance or trespass
depending upon the facts and circumstances.”
Question: Can I use a UAV to inspect my own crops without a permit from the FAA?
Rumley: “Not if you sell your crops. The current policy of the FAA is that all commercial
uses of a UAV require the operator to obtain a permit. If you are flying a UAV for
purely recreational purposes then there is a much lower threshold for operating a
UAV, but that would likely not apply to this question.”
Question: Could I use my UAV to catch poachers on our farm legally?
Rumley: “This use may fall into a bit of a gray area. If you are leasing out your farm for
hunting purposes to other people then you probably would not be able to use a UAV
since keeping off poachers would be a commercial activity. Your land will be more
valuable to hunters if you keep poachers off of the property and this could be considered
a commercial use. If you are not leasing out the land for hunting purposes then there
likely would be no commercial benefit to using the UAV, but you should check with
the FAA to ensure that this use is permissible.”
The National Agricultural Law Center is the only agricultural law research and information
facility that is independent, national in scope, and directly connected to the national
agricultural information network. As a result of the expanding scope of agricultural
law and its convergence with related areas, the Center also includes food law in the
scope of its coverage.
Recognizing the importance of the Cooperative Extension Service, the Center is also
proud to serve as the lead institution for the eXtension Agricultural and Food Law
Community of Practice.
This article is meant for purely educational use it is not meant to constitute legal
For more about the center, visit https://nationalaglawcenter.org.
The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative
action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need
materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other
appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.
The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons
regardless of race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin,
religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any
other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
# # #
Media Contact: Mary HightowerDir. of Communication ServicesU of A Division of AgricultureCooperative Extension Service(501) email@example.com