By Joey Daniels
In the Delta, the great Mississippi and Yazoo rivers come together to make some of the most fertile soil in the world. With populations increasing faster than ever, farmers are under pressure to produce more yield per acre of crops. High input costs and time sensitive application management requires crop treatment be done on a strict schedule. That’s why Mississippi farms rely on general aviation and agricultural application businesses like mine.
My business, Daniels Aviation Inc., performs mostly row crop and some forestry applications throughout the Mississippi Delta. With farms increasing in size, it is important to treat them in a timely manner. Our aircraft can cover between 2500 to 3000 acres every day. To cover the same amount of land, it can take a ground rig five days to do what one plane can in a day. And that’s only if the ground is dry, so the rig doesn’t get stuck in the damp soil. Using aviation keeps farmers from losing precious time waiting for the right conditions.
Here in the Mississippi Delta, over 50% of all agricultural applications and 90% of all forestry applications are done by aircraft. And, the demand for aerial application is increasing. What used to be a seasonal business is now bustling all year round. It wouldn’t be possible to complete the job without general aviation.
Aviation holds promise for more than just farmers across our region. I’ve seen more and more young pilots embracing the opportunities for a career in aviation. Our schools like Delta State University and Hinds Community College are training the next generation of pilots and aviation workers.
A recent study found that general aviation contributes more than $488 million to Mississippi’s economy each year and supports an annual payroll of more than $123 million. And general aviation supports emergency medical services, disaster response, and law enforcement. In an area like the Delta, air ambulances are incredibly important to ensure patients can get the care they need quickly and safely.
General aviation is critical for rural communities, ensuring that they have equal access to our aviation network. Right now, there are proposals in Congress to privatize our air traffic control system and remove Congressional oversight. This would stifle general aviation and what has become a source of American pride ensuring that all regions and communities have access to our aviation system.
Our air transportation system is the safest and most diverse in the world. Let’s keep it that way.
Joey Daniels is the owner and chief pilot of Daniels Aviation and a member of the Alliance for Aviation Across America.