Published by WoWo News on July 14, 2019
Jefferson City, MO. (July 15, 2019) – Broadband is no longer a luxury but a necessity for modern agriculture and the quality of life for rural Americans, Missouri Farm Bureau President Blake Hurst told a House subcommittee today.
“While most Americans take broadband for granted, 26.4% of rural Americans lack access to broadband,” the Missouri farmer told the Agriculture Subcommittee on Commodity Exchanges, Energy and Credit. “This is alarming, particularly when compared to the only 1.7% of urban Americans who lack such access.”
Yet even these disheartening numbers understate the extent of the problem.
Current broadband data and maps “fail to accurately determine broadband access,” Hurst said. “Farmers and ranchers … must have access to fixed and mobile broadband to be more efficient, economical and responsive to environmental needs.”
The upside to broadband, meanwhile, is significant. Hurst presented the committee with a Farm Bureau study showing that widespread broadband service could boost the agricultural economy by an estimated $64.5 billion.
Broadband connectivity allows equipment like cloud-connected planters, irrigators, tractors and harvesters to automatically change application rates for seed, fertilizer and more. This improves sustainability by enabling farmers to apply less water, protect soil health and precisely plant seeds, which also helps farmers save money.
“After we collect this data, we must transfer it from our machines to the company who writes our ‘prescriptions,’ share it with our partners who supply our seed, and eventually utilize it when making crop insurance and other business decisions,” Hurst said. “Transferring this data, which is essential to the future success of every farmer, requires access to fast, reliable and affordable broadband.”
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