Advocates for the expansion of broadband service in rural America are gathering today in Washington, D.C. for the first meeting of the Federal Communications Commission’s Task Force for Reviewing the Connectivity and Technology Needs of Precision Agriculture. Three Farm Bureau members are serving on the task force: Mississippi Farm Bureau President Mike McCormick, Missouri Department of Agriculture Director Chris Chinn and Pete Brent, operations manager of New Vision Farms in Ohio.
Earlier this year, McCormick told the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee that broadband is no longer a luxury in rural America, it is a necessity.
“America’s farmers and ranchers embrace technology that allows their farming businesses to be more efficient, economical and environmentally friendly. Today’s farmers and ranchers are using precision agricultural techniques to make decisions that impact the amount of fertilizer a farmer needs to purchase and apply to the field, the amount of water needed to sustain the crop, and the amount and type of herbicides or pesticides the farmer may need to apply,” he explained.
According to the FCC, during the first meeting the task force members will consider the focus of its various working groups, review the 2018 farm bill and existing FCC and USDA programs and policies relevant to the task force’s duties, and begin discussing strategies to advance broadband deployment on agricultural land and promote precision agriculture.
The four working groups are: Mapping and Analyzing Connectivity on Agricultural Lands; Examining Current and Future Connectivity Demand for Precision Agriculture; Encouraging Adoption of Precision Agriculture and Availability of High-Quality Jobs on Connected Farms; and Accelerating Broadband Deployment on Unserved Agricultural Lands.
The FCC was directed to establish the task force in the Precision Agriculture Connectivity Act of 2018, which was passed into law as part of the 2018 farm bill.