Bipartisan lawmakers eye AI safeguards for US agriculture industry

FIRST ON FOX: Lawmakers are eyeing safeguards for integrating artificial intelligence (AI) technology into the U.S.’s agricultural sector.

A new bill introduced by Rep. Randy Feenstra, R-Iowa, and backed by both sides of the aisle aims to enforce standards for AI programs connected to everyday Americans’ food, fuel and other necessities.

Feenstra, whose district is heavily rural, told Fox News Digital that AI is becoming increasingly relevant in the farming industry but that existing guardrails on new technology aren’t keeping up with that boom, he suggested.

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Rep. Randy Feenstra is leading a bill to add safeguards to AI technology used in the agricultural sector (Rod Lamkey/Pool/Getty Images)

“From precision agriculture to veterinary software, the latest developments in agricultural technology – including artificial intelligence – have the power to lower input costs for farmers, protect the health of livestock and poultry, and make farming operations more efficient,” Feenstra said. 

“We must be equally active in certifying that these new technologies, products and processes work as they should and uphold the highest industry standards.”

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Arizona bales of hay

Bales of hay are stored under shelters at Al Dahra Farms, Oct. 17, 2023, in the McMullen Valley in Wenden, Arizona. (AP Photo/John Locher)

His bill, the Farm Tech Act, would protect farmers from “faulty or misleading technologies by requiring the USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) to verify the legitimacy and effectiveness of agricultural software and other technologies that are increasingly used on farms across Iowa and the United States,” he said.

Bill co-sponsor Rep. David Valadao, R-Calif., said, “As new technology like artificial intelligence becomes more common in our agriculture operations, we need to make sure these new tools are safe for consumers and producers alike.”

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Rep. David Valadao speaking to reporters

Rep. David Valadao is co-sponsoring the bill. (Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call Inc. via Getty Images)

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It’s also being co-sponsored by Rep. Eric Sorensen, D-Ill.

This year has seen a flurry of AI legislation introduced in Congress as lawmakers race to keep up with the rapidly advancing technology, but debate is still ongoing over whether and how to regulate it.

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