The Environmental Protection Agency is said to be using drone aircraft to spy on cattle ranchers in Iowa and Nebraska.
EPA defends its right to use aerial surveillance in areas that have high numbers of impaired watersheds and Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, justifying the surveillance in part by saying the aircraft used are not drones, but four-seat Cessna planes.
While private pilots are at the controls, EPA confirms that EPA staff are on board. EPA's Chris Lancaster says the photos collected on flyovers are reviewed only by EPA staff and this is entirely an EPA initiative, not associated with any other environmental group.
Since 2010, there have been 18 CAFO flyovers in Nebraska and Iowa, which have led to eight farmers receiving penalty orders, mostly in Iowa.
EPA officials say aerial surveillance has been a cost-effective measure, allowing them to eliminate the need for on-site inspections on CAFOs that are in compliance with their regulations.
Source: Argentine Beef Packers S.A.
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