Bravo: Congress Considers Rural Broadband Act

The Agricultural Broadband Coalition applauded bipartisan leaders in the House and Senate for introducing the Precision Agriculture Connectivity Act of 2018 on Thursday, a milestone piece of legislation that will help to revolutionize farming across the United States.

The legislation, which was introduced in the Senate by Sens. Roger Wicker and Amy Klobuchar and in the House by Congressmen Bob Latta and Dave Loebsack, will help to facilitate the deployment of broadband internet across rural America – including ranchland and cropland, where broadband connectivity is increasingly essential for production agriculture.

“Farm equipment manufacturers applaud Sens. Wicker and Klobuchar and Congressmen Latta and Loebsack for working to make sure the federal government evolves along with the technology that has revolutionized modern agriculture,” said Nick Tindall, senior director for the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), the chair of the Agricultural Broadband Coalition. “This legislation creates a clear mandate for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to work with other branches of government to develop a comprehensive strategy to both update our rural infrastructure, and ensure that those investments meet the needs of farmers and ranchers, and the machinery on which they rely to feed the world.”

“Bringing together the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the FCC and public and private stakeholders to address the needs of precision agriculture ensures current and future generations of farmers and ranchers will have the necessary connectivity to achieve optimal yields, lower environmental impact and maximize profit,” said American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall. “Broadband deployment in unserved and underserved croplands and ranchlands is essential to farmers and ranchers who produce the food, fuel and fiber across the United States and around the world.”

The Precision Agriculture Connectivity Act of 2018 creates the Task Force for Meeting the Connectivity and Technology Needs of Precision Agriculture in the United States. Within a year, the task force is intended to bring together public and private stakeholders to evaluate current programs affecting broadband internet access on cropland and ranchland, identify and measure existing gaps in coverage, and develop policy recommendations to address that gap. The task force is also charged with developing specific steps the FCC, U.S. Department of Agriculture and other federal agencies can take to address gaps in coverage.

The Agricultural Broadband Coalition hopes that Congress will take up and pass the legislation so as to help facilitate greater access to broadband internet access on cropland and ranchland.

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