Home-United States2024 NAAA Spring Board Meeting Held in DC-Area

2024 NAAA Spring Board Meeting Held in DC-Area

The 2024 Spring Board Meeting of the National Agricultural Aviation Association was held in February. Below is the CEO report from Andrew Moore:

After the PAC breakfast and EPA presentation, NAAA CEO Andrew Moore provided an overview of recent national agricultural aviation events and NAAA’s involvement in positively influencing those events to benefit the industry.  He reiterated that NAAA’s primary function is to advocate for pesticide language allowing aerial application use without unnecessarily burdensome restrictions.  NAAA will be developing survey questions for a comprehensive study profiling the agricultural aviation industry for the 2024 season, including questions on aerial pesticide use.  This data along with urging the EPA to use updated atmospheric modeling formulations, such as Tier 3 of the AGDISP model, results in more real world, accurate assumptions of aerially applied movement of pesticides and any possible risks associated with them, preventing misguided label restrictions for aerial applications.  Since 2017 NAAA has commented on 270+ EPA pesticide active ingredient and pesticide regulatory policies. This year EPA is expected to release its endangered species insecticide and fungicide strategy and draft reregistrations for neonics and acephate, amongst others.

Moore also touched on efforts to modernize the computer coding of the AGDISP atmospheric model for the purpose of ultimately steering away from a one-size fits all risk assessment and instead have more realistic, site-specific risk assessments conducted in real time through updating the model.  Currently $50,000 of a total of $250,000 over five years has been received from the Centers for Disease Control to recode the model.  A total of $500,000 will be necessary to complete the recoding.


Moore then touched on low-altitude airspace safety issues and announced, due to affective lobbying on NAAA’s behalf, the U.S. Senate’s recent markup of their FAA Reauthorization included language in its drone beyond visual line of site operations (BVLOS) section that the FAA “ensure the safe coexistence of UAS with manned aircraft operating in the national airspace system.”  This language parrots similar language in the House’s enacted version and is an important victory as the FAA has stated it hopes to release a draft UAS BVLOS rulemaking as early as August of 2024.  NAAA along with nearly all national general aviation organizations and airline pilot associations have implored that the FAA proceed with caution when promulgating BVLOS policy and to ensure that UAS provide right-of-way to crewed aircraft and equip with failsafe detect and avoid technology.  Also included in the Senate version of the FAA Reauthorization is language urging the FAA complete the tower-marking rule for rural towers between 50 and 200 feet or report in detail on an annual basis as to why not. NAAA continues to urge new FAA Administrator Whittaker to promulgate the tower marking/logging rule.

Moore also stated that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has informed NAAA that the proposed rule to allow states to allow CDL licensees to transport 1,000 gallons or fewer of Jet A without a HazMat endorsement should be released for comment on or before October of 2024.


Moore also stated that the current Farm Bill is set to expire by September 2024 unless reauthorized.  He also stated that both the House and Senate are working on new Farm Bill legislation, but due to the cost of the legislation and small majorities in Congress, that will be a challenge. The current federal debt at $34 trillion has increased well over 50% since the last Farm Bill ($21 trillion in 2018) when $26.3 billion of agricultural and nutrition spending was cut. Regardless of the challenges, NAAA is pushing Congress to include a regulatory relief title in the bill that would exempt pesticide applicators from the NPDES pesticide general permit and that would defer to the states and federal government’s scientific and regulatory expertise to develop and enforce pesticide law, not the 80,000 local government jurisdictions throughout the country that lack the resources.  NAAA is also pursuing language supportive of the USDA’s Aerial Application Technology Unit within the Farm Bill and to ensure that subsidies for rural broadband towers be made on the condition that the towers are properly marked and logged per the 2018 FAA Reauthorization.

Moore then shifted to communications issues and reported on the first of four Farm Journal one-page articles and half page ads in the Scoop magazine that was published this month as a result of NAAA’s recent agreement with the publisher.  The Scoop reaches 20,000 national retailers and crop consultants and the ag aviation content may also be shared on AgWeb (200,000 farmers nationwide), Top Producer (100,000 farmers that grow over 1,000 acres nationwide and other Farm Journal publications.  He also discussed that NAAA will again be exhibiting on Ag on the Mall this May organized by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers.  The NAAA exhibited in 2022 with a helicopter that will again be on display thanks to Helicopter Applicators Incorporated in Gettysburg, PA.  The event was densely attended by agricultural press and the general media as well as senior federal policymakers, and lawmakers in addition to a public audience of approximately 270,000.


Moore then shifted to industry issues and stated that a new drone application pilot association had been formed known as the Unmanned Pilots Association for Safety & Standards, or U.PASS.  The website for the organization states that its services include third party safety certification and a 137 step-by-step guide.  He also stated that NAAA had accepted an invitation to speak at the 2nd Spray Drone End User Conference later this month to inform drone application users about NAAA’s pesticide registration advocacy, CEU qualifying education programs, investment in obtaining federal aerial application technology research, and networking, amongst other services.  NAAA also received an invitation to attend the Brazilian aerial application trade show, SINDAG, later this summer to discuss the possibility of establishing an international agricultural aviation association for knowledge sharing purposes.


Next discussed were ag aviation accidents.  A few weeks ago, the FAA released the results of its General Aviation Activity survey from 2022 and it showed that the number of accidents in the ag aviation industry that year was 51 with nine fatal accidents out of a total of 831,999 hours flown.  This resulted in 6.13 accidents per 100,000 hours flown and it further increased the percentage reduction of accidents per 100,000 hours since the PAASS program hit the state in 1999 to a 26.60% decrease in accidents between 1999-2022 when compared to 1993-1998 figures. This matches a 26% reduction in drift incidents since PAASS.  A remarkable figure when considering that fewer than half, or 47% of ag pilots attended PAASS prior to 2020.


Moore then discussed that the Certified Professional Aerial Applicator Safety Steward, or C-PAASS designation, for 2024.  C-PAASS now includes the availability of on-line curriculum that a C-PAASS professional must review and be tested upon for knowledge of the effects of droplet size to the spray pattern and safely operating in a wire environment.  These online educational requirements must be satisfactorily met in addition to 2024 NAAA and state/regional ag aviation association membership; PAASS attendance the past three seasons; and biennial Operation S.A.F.E. participation.


It was also announced that the Agricultural Airman Certification Guidelines, a comprehensive manual in which to test proficiency for crewed agricultural aircraft operations, will soon be made available to NAAA members and should complete safety requirements set out by the NTSB back in 2014 for NAAA and the agricultural aviation industry to address to mitigate 14 CFR Part 137 safety risks.


Moore then discussed Ag Aviation Expo results and prospects.  In 2023, the convention in Palm Springs netted $651,775 in overall income with 1,276 in attendance.  This compared to netting $819,801 in overall income in Knoxville in 2022 with 1,573 attendees.  The 2024 show will be in Fort Worth, Texas and excitement levels are very high for the show.  The Kickoff Breakfast speaker will be Australian Kevin Humphreys, a 20-year military veteran that flew Black Hawk and Chinook helicopters for the Australian Army in East Timor, Iraq, Afghanistan and many other high-intensity theaters. He suffered and overcame post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and anxiety and will share the PTSD triggers he experienced and how he addressed his mental state and transformed his life.  The convention’s general session speakers will be Noah Parr, an H2A farm labor contract with recommendations on how to legally employee out of country ag aviation laborers.  Geffrey Anderson with the Texas law firm of Anderson Riddle LLP will hold a mock drift trial to demonstrate how to be prepared to avoid drift claims or how to combat them if wrongfully accused.  Moore then stated that the 2025 and 2018 Ag Aviation Expo will be held in Reno, Nevada, Savannah in 2026, and Oklahoma City in 2027.


NAAA membership numbers were then reported.  At year end of 2023, NAAA had 1,700 members (541 operators and 531 pilots).  This compared to 1,826 total members as of the end of 2022 (573 operators and 566 pilots).  This is a 7% drop in members between 2022 and 2023.  There are 1,560 U.S. aerial application operators and 2,028 U.S. non-operator ag pilots in the U.S.  Renewals for 2024 show that there were 1,142 NAAA members as of the end of January (418 operators and 308 pilots.  This compares to 1,129 NAAA members as of the end of January 2023 (423 operators and 323 pilots).  NAAA’s association management service, Atria, is presently calling non-renewing members to join for 2024.  NAAA will also send non-renewing member lists to the board representatives for them to contact and request to re-join.


Moore also discussed the recent crafting by the president, and past and current treasurer of the 2024-2025 NAAA budget.  The fiscal year begins on July 1st.  The draft budget overestimated expenses and underestimated revenues and is projected to have a ($116,568) deficit. This includes $42,000 worth of depreciation, a $13,000 increase in general office funding for building repairs to replace leaking and poorly insulated windows.  It also, to be fiscally conservative, does not take into account likely higher convention attendance numbers due to being held in Texas, the largest state in terms of aerial application businesses in the country; and membership numbers that could go higher due to excitement about an NAAA health care program for its members.  For fiscal year 2022-2023 a deficit was projected of ($50,679), yet at the actual conclusion of the fiscal year a $158,743 surplus was achieved.  Similarly, in fiscal year 2021-2022, a deficit was projected of ($115,183.00), yet at the actual conclusion of the year a surplus of $354,109.11 was achieved.


Moore, before concluding, stated that there is a substantial list of projects that the association staff must address on a perennial basis including the following: FIFRA pesticide policy and aerial label re-registrations; securing USDA-ARS aerial application funding; responding to FAA airworthiness directives and other aviation policy rulemaking and related policy issues affecting the agricultural aviation industry; organizing the Ag Aviation Expo and spring and fall board meetings; writing and researching weekly eNewsletters, website updates, social media posts; publishing three Agricultural Aviation magazine editions and an annual membership directory; writing four Farm Journal articles and a slew of press releases for the ag, aviation and general media; development of original PAASS program content, weekly Fly Safes and Operation S.A.F.E. clinics; membership marketing; AgAir Update columns; scholarship and awards management; leadership training program organization; daily board and membership inquiries and case work; accident tracking and analysis; and much more.


Moore mentioned that in addition to the above, this year there are additional projects to complete including the following: Ag on the Mall; C-PAASS educational module(s); FAA Reauthorization advocacy; Farm Bill advocacy; commenting  on FAA BVLOS NPRM; conducting a 2024 Ag Aviation Industry Survey; implement health/disability insurance for members; install new database; comment on FMCSA proposed regulation to allow states to allow transportation of up to 1,000 gallons of Jet A without a HazMat endorsement; EPA endangered species comments on insecticide, fungicide policy; updated coding of AGDISP and develop site specific risk assessment; develop Flight Risk Assessment Tool; and more.  Because of the abundance of projects needing attention, Moore counseled that the board look to rescind projects that don’t follow the policy advocacy; promotion of positive public relations; networking; and professional, ethics-focused education and safety programming that the association is charged with per its Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws.


After Moore’s presentation, President Newcomb adjourned to committee meetings at 10:10 a.m. for the committees to meet and conduct business.

Motions from Committee Meetings

Allied Industry & Convention Committee: Anthonie York, Allied Industry Committee Chair: No motions for the board.

Awards Committee: JT Helms, Committee Chair: No motions for the board.

Budget & Finance Committee and Treasurer’s Report: Immediate Past Treasurer Darrel Mertens presented one motion:

Motion 1: The NAAA Budget & Finance Committee recommends that the FY 2024-25 Budget be approved as presented, seconded by Mark Kimmel (Past President), and the budget was approved.

Communications & Public Relations Committee: Sam Styron, Committee Vice Chair: No motions for the board.

Governing Documents Committee: Jim Perrin, Committee Chair: No motions for the board.

Government Relations Committee: Damon Reabe, Committee Chair: No motions for the board.

Insurance Committee: Dan Gudgel, Committee Chair: No motions for the board.

Long Range Planning Committee: Mark Kimmel, Committee Chair presented one motion:

Motion 1: The NAAA Long Range Planning Committee recommends sending an NAAA representative to SINDAG 2024 to discuss their interest in establishing an international Ag Aviation Association for industry knowledge sharing, seconded by Nick Scott (CO), and the motion passed.

Membership Committee: Darrel Mertens, Committee Chair presented one motion:

Motion 1: The NAAA Membership Committee recommends that the Board of Directors approve the list of new members as presented, seconded by Dan Gudgel (CA), and the motion passed.

Museum Committee: Matt Woolard, Committee Chair: No motions for the board.

Nominating Committee: Craig Craft, Committee Chair: No motions for the board.

Precision Agriculture Committee: Damon Reabe, Committee Chair: No motions for the board.

Safety & Federal Aviation Regulations Committee: Matt Hovdenes, Committee Chair: No motions for the board.

Support Committee: Tiffany Rivenbark, Committee Chair: No motions for the board.

NAAREF Report: Perry Hofer, NAAREF President: No motions for the board.

Andrew Moore announced that Long Range Planning will no longer meet at the same time as Membership beginning in 2025. NAAA will combine Governing Documents with Long Range Planning to meet at the same time and that committee will meet Friday afternoon and Membership Committee will meet on Saturday morning.


A motion was made by Jim Perrin (Past President) to adjourn, seconded by Craig Bair (SD), and the meeting adjourned at 4:15 p.m.







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