Bowling Green, Kentucky (August 9, 2022) – August 7 to 13 marks National Farmers Market Week. In our 21-plus years of operation, Connected Nation has seen time and again how high-speed internet can impact the rural communities that help keep local farm vendors afloat.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), there are more than 8,000 farmers’ markets across the United States. They play a critical role in connecting growers with consumers, and making biodiverse foods available to a wider audience. Buying locally grown foods reduces the greenhouse gasses that result from hauling foods long distances, puts dollars back into the community, and relieves pressure on supply chains that have struggled to keep up with demand in the past few years.
Farms benefit as well. A 2019 survey found that 67% of farms that participate in farmers’ markets increased their overall production after they began selling their wares locally; 33% increased the number of workers employed on their farms; and more than 3 out of 4 (77%) diversified the types of agricultural products they grew as a result of participating in local farmers’ markets.
Connected Nation has helped hundreds of rural communities to develop the sustainable, reliable broadband networks that their agricultural producers need to do business. More and more, farming operations rely on high-speed internet for information, to advertise their products, and operate the sophisticated equipment that has become as reliant on computing technology as in many other industries. To maximize their harvests, today’s farmer needs the ability to monitor soil, air, and water quality; access global markets as easily as their local supply store; and reach out to buyers, both down the road and across the globe. All of this requires dependable, affordable internet service.
Connected Nation’s Connected Community Engagement program found that approximately 1 in 8 agriculture facilities that participated in the survey (12%) said they sold their wares at a local farmers’ market. Among those, 93% said they rely on the internet to promote or advertise their business, while nearly 4 out of 5 (79%) participate in virtual marketplaces where they can sell their products directly to consumers. Even the smallest local farms need high-speed internet today in order to thrive and expand.
In 2021, President Biden signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), which included $2.75 billion in grants to promote digital inclusion for households and businesses that might be at risk for falling on the wrong side of the Digital Divide, including farms and rural communities.
To find more about the IIJA, visit our website here. To learn more about what agricultural producers are saying about the need for high-speed internet, check out our Connected Community Engagement program here. You can also follow us on Facebook or Twitter to stay abreast of all the latest broadband developments that may affect you and your community.
About the Author: Chris McGovern is the Connected Nation Director of Research Development. Chris works with Connected Nation staff and external stakeholders to develop research deliverables and provide critical analysis. He uses qualitative and quantitative techniques to interpret data, formulate reports, and make substantiated recommendations based on research findings.
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