fb - voice of agriculture

Broadband Internet Access Critical for Rural America

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 1, 2007 – The American Farm Bureau Federation today urged lawmakers to support legislation that would rapidly implement high-quality, affordable broadband Internet service, especially in rural areas.

Rural Americans lag behind urban and suburban residents in the use and availability of high-speed Internet connections, according to AFBF. Twenty-four percent of rural Americans have high-speed Internet access at home, compared to 39 percent of urban and suburban residents.

“Access to high-speed Internet access is important to rural America. Broadband plays a critical role in health, education and economic development,” AFBF President Bob Stallman said in a letter to U.S. senators.

A 2006 report from the Commerce Department shows that broadband Internet access enhances the economic growth and performance of communities. A three-year study by the department indicates communities with broadband access significantly outpaced communities without broadband access in terms of employment, overall number of businesses and property values.

Farm Bureau is urging support for S. 1190, new legislation sponsored by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) that would provide $40 million annually for a competitive, matching grant program to improve access to broadband Internet service. If approved, 80 percent of funding for the program would come from the federal government, with state and private funds supplying the remaining 20 percent.

“We believe passage of this bill would significantly assist our rural communities in growing businesses in rural America,” said Stallman.

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Contacts: Tracy Taylor Grondine
(202) 406-3642
tracyg@fb.org
Cyndie Sirekis
(202) 406-3649
cyndies@fb.org