Drone Technology Benefits Agriculture

Drone Technology Useful for Calif. Ranchers and Growers

by Laurie Greene, Editor

Fifth-generation Parkfield rancher in southern Monterey County and 2016 Vice President of the National Cattlemen’s Beef AssociationKevin Kester, was introduced to the viability of potentially beneficial uses of owning and using a drone on his ranch for agricultural purposes.

Yamaha Drone

As owner and operator of Bear Valley Ranch & Vineyards, the family’s cattle and winegrape operations, Kester anticipated the biggest benefits of drone ownership would be the capability to check on cattle and ensure their safety from a bird’s eye view, and to determine water levels in reservoirs—a task that in the past could be completed only on foot or by vehicle. Cattle safety is especially important for ranchers, according to Kester, as the cattle industry has been experiencing stagnation in production.

Kester said having a drone would also helpful for security issues. He wants to detect human intrusion on his land, a problem that he experienced recently. “There have been some hunter-related trespass issues and people coming onto the ranch,” he said. “We’ve actually had cattle and horses shot.”

Kester, who is also a member of the California Association of Winegrape Growers, Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance and the Central Coast Vineyard Team, will purchase a commercial drone package and believes this modern technology will give not only cattlemen, but growers in California, a new way of assessing safety, production and maintenance.

2021-05-12T11:05:56-07:00June 9th, 2016|

Common Sense ESA Enforcement

NCBA Calls for Common Sense ESA Enforcement and Critical Habitat Designations

By Brian German Associate Editor


The interpretation and impact of the Endangered Species Act  (ESA) continues to be a concern for growers and ranchers. Ethan Lane, executive director for the Public Lands Council of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, is working to inject more common sense into ESA enforcement.

“We’re spending a lot of time on the ESA. It’s an issue that impacts producers all over the West, and it’s starting to creep East as species like the northern long-eared bat and wolves” are added to the list. “So we’re engaging with Congress, talking about ways to improve the act and get it back to its original intention,” Lane said.

NCBA Public Lands Council logoLane addressed the difficulty in changing anything on the ESA, “Right now, because of outside litigation pressure, the ESA and its implementation is totally focused on listing. That’s because they’re completely swamped—the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is totally swamped—responding to those listing petitions and subsequent lawsuits.”

Land, who has 18+ years of experience in natural resource and land use issues, commented that to ensure the act is appropriately enforced, “We need to transition back to a place where they can focus on listing, recovery and then delisting a species once those species have recovered. That’s going to take Congress probably getting involved and making sure to refine how those resources are spent and where the attention is placed inside the USFWS.”

Lane emphasized the importance of the ESA and the necessity to ensure it achieves its purpose. “There’s no secret, I don’t think, to anybody who pays attention to this issue,” Lane said. “The ESA is popular with the American people. I think we need to be realistic that we’re not going to be doing away with the ESA anytime soon, so we had better make sure it works for everybody.”

“The first step in doing that,” Lane explained, “is making sure that it is a fully-functioning act; because right now, it is really broken. So we’re putting our attention on solvable issues that people can get behind where we can build consensus and actually try to make some changes.”

As a result of a new rule concerning critical habit guidelines, Lane anticipates potential problems for California’s cattle industry. “There are more species than I can count that could potentially impact the cattle industry in California and beyond,” he said. “So right now, where the rubber meets the road, is in the expansion of critical habitat guidelines on behalf of USFWS. They’ve just released a new expanded rule definition on what constitutes critical habitat. This new designation includes areas that have the biological potential to support that habitat needed for a species’ survival,” he said.


2016-05-31T19:24:04-07:00May 10th, 2016|
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