By Emily Unglesbee
In with the new, onward with the old -- that is the unique challenge facing rural America's infrastructure needs.
On the one hand, rural citizens and agricultural communities are suffering for lack of reliable, high-speed internet that they need to compete and survive economically. On the other hand, much of rural America is crisscrossed by an aging network of roads, railroads and shipping channels in need of repairs, maintenance and expansion.
USDA explored these widely varying infrastructure needs in its annual Agricultural Outlook Forum, late last week in Arlington, Virginia.
THE HUNT FOR RURAL BROADBAND
"For the past 20 years, and rightly so, the conversation about rural broadband and connectivity is about getting fiber hard lines out to the anchor institutions -- schools, hospitals, libraries, and now we're trying to push that to getting fiber out to the homesteads," said Nick Tindall, senior director of regulatory affairs and ag policy for the Association of Equipment Manufacturers. "And that is important, but we need to start thinking beyond that. Instead of just getting fiber to places, we need to come to the understanding that our croplands need wireless connectivity as well."
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