President Trump put into place new rules Monday that Connected Nation believes is good for development in rural America. The President signed an executive order and a presidential memorandum that remove some of the barriers that stand in the way of broadband (high-speed internet) expansion.
Reading from the executive order, Trump said this is the first step to “streamlining and expediting requests to locate broadband facilities in rural America.”
The President addressed the American Farm Bureau Convention in Nashville, Tennessee, just before signing the documents and announced the findings of his Agriculture and Rural Prosperity Task Force, formed in April of 2017 and chaired by Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, to assess the needs of rural America.
“I commissioned a task force to meet with farmers and local communities to find the greatest barriers to rural prosperity,” Trump said. “Today, this task force is releasing its final report.”
“We’re very excited that the President is taking action and that this report is shining a light on the immediate needs of farmers and rural communities across America,” said Tom Ferree, Chairman and CEO of Connected Nation. “Our staff has worked in rural areas for more than a decade, and we’ve seen firsthand the impact access to the internet can have on our nation’s farmers and small towns. It can help an area prosper and grow, even in the most remote parts of the country. At the same time, to not have internet means being unable to access business, healthcare, and education opportunities with serious consequences that can mean everything from families being forced to leave their homes to farmers losing their farms.”
A Call to Action
The Agriculture and Rural Prosperity Task Force’s report identifies five immediate ways that the nation can impact rural America. Among those are expanding e-connectivity in rural areas and supporting a rural work force.
Connected Nation has been working in partnership with both public and private entities to better identify areas of need through its broadband mapping efforts. Using its Connected Community Engagement ProgramSM, the nonprofit has helped both large and small communities assess the challenges and opportunities for broadband expansion and look for ways to create digital inclusion.
Connected Nation also applauds the task force for recognizing that access is not the only step to closing the Digital Divide. It’s also important to support a rural work force. Connected Nation’s Digital Works program provides training, mentorship, and job placement specifically geared toward remote and work-at-home employment. Digital Works’ staff has seen how providing this resource can bring hope to families who want to live in small communities, while providing a new tax base for regions that are often economically depressed.
“The task force heard from farmers that broadband Internet access is an issue of vital concern to their communities and businesses,” Trump said in his speech. “That is why today, in a few minutes, I will take the first step to expand access to broadband internet in rural America so you can compete on a level playing field, which you were not able to do.”
The executive order signed by the President shortly after his speech calls for accelerating “the deployment and adoption of affordable, reliable, modern high-speed broadband connectivity in rural America.” It also directs all agencies to “reduce barriers to capital investment, remove obstacles to broadband services, and more efficiently employ government resources by requiring agencies to use standardized forms for installing communications antennas on federal buildings.”
The presidential memorandum will support the deployment of tower facilities in rural areas and on federal properties managed by the Department of the Interior. It is strong action that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have said is needed now more than ever.
“We’ve been working on rural broadband expansion for five years. I was so happy the President took action by signing [these orders],” said Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN). “It’s time we close the Digital Divide and bring our internet across Tennessee to the twenty-first century standards.”
“Signing these orders and taking action means giving millions of Americans the resources and opportunities many of us already enjoy,” Ferree said. “No family should be forced to leave their home because they can’t find work; no child should be left without a way to do his or her schoolwork; and no farmer should have to give up his profession because he can’t sell his crops at a fair price. We applaud this effort because we believe everyone belongs in a connected nation.”
Read the Rural Prosperity Task Force Report
Watch the President’s full remarks below or read them here.
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