Environmental Legal Issues in Precision Ag Tech

Jamie JohansenAg Group, environment, InfoAg

infoag15-96-editedEmerging legal issues impacting precision agriculture was the topic of one of the breakout sessions during the 2015 InfoAg Conference. Bob Wilkinson, environmental attorney for Husch Blackwell’s food and agribusiness business unit in St. Louis, sat down with me to share more about his work. This unit has about 70 lawyers who focus on this industry and recently they have spent a lot of time working in precision technology and UAV’s use in agriculture.

At InfoAg, Bob talked on the collection of data through the use of UAV’s that might be used in an environmental compliance context. The developments of precision technology in agriculture is very exciting. “The concern of owners and operators of facilities using these technologies is some of their information can be used in the environmental compliance context for identifying things like emissions in the air from fuel tanks, grain bins, processing operations, discharges from surface water, lagoons, etc.”

Bob pointed out that the environmental agencies have very broad information gathering authorities. “If data collected like this can be used to find issues with compliance with the main environmental laws, the federal government and nearly every state have the authority to request that information and require that people who have that data turn it over to them.”

Bob said they advise their clients to really think if they need information in order to make good business decisions. If so, then by all means collect it. But if you get a request from an agency, you will have to turn it over. If you are gathering information with no plan to use it, then you might consider whether or not you want to continue generating the information.

Learn more about this particular legal issue in precision agriculture in my complete interview with Bob here: [wpaudio url=”http://traffic.libsyn.com/zimmcomm/infoag-15-wilkinson.mp3″ text=”Interview with Bob Wilkinson, Husch Blackwell”]

View and download photos from the event here: 2015 InfoAg Conference Photo Album

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Coverage of the InfoAg Conference is sponsored by John Deere   Coverage of the InfoAg Conference is sponsored by Growmark