Impact of COVID-19 on Agriculture

Coronavirus Emphasizes Challenges for Rural Communities

Podcasts / Newsline March 12, 2020

The Coronavirus outbreak sending workers and students home emphasizes the need for quality broadband access in rural America. Micheal Clements has more.

Clements: Whether it’s working or studying from home, or access to adequate health care resources, the coronavirus outbreak has emphasized the need for better rural broadband connections across the country. RJ Karney, American Farm Bureau Federation Congressional Relations Director, says many rural areas lack quality connections.

Karney: Broadband is no longer a luxury, it is a necessity for farmers, for ranchers, for rural communities. Rural Americans rely on broadband for distance learning, they rely on broadband for telemedicine. We’ve seen a drastic decline in primary care physicians throughout rural America, so the high-speed connection that broadband provides is a quality of life standard for Rural America.

Clements: Karney says a recent bill passed by the House and Senate will better direct funds to improve rural broadband.

Karney:  Earlier this week, the Senate passed the Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability Act. This bill would improve the accuracy of broadband coverage maps and better direct federal funds for broadband buildout by creating more granular, transparent accountability within broadband access maps.

Clements: Karney says the coronavirus outbreak response represents a real-time case study on the need for adequate rural broadband.

Karney: We’re seeing more and more schools begin to shutter their doors and relying on internet access to continue to teach the students. Unfortunately for rural students who do not have access, these are severe limitations for them to continue their education. Farm Bureau remains focused on working with members of Congress and this administration to achieve the needs of rural America when it comes to broadband deployment.

Clements: Micheal Clements, Washington.

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