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Farm Bureau Fighting to Close the Digital Divide

Podcast / Newsline July 23, 2019

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High-speed internet access is needed to improve the sustainability of rural America. Chad Smith has more.

Smith: Broadband access is very important for agriculture in this age of technology. American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall says farmers need access to remain competitive, especially in a struggling agricultural economy. Farmers use technology in different ways.

Duvall: It touches agriculture in a big way because we use so many technologies that are available to us -- being able to collect the data, and being able to move forward and being more productive. We’re able to not just be productive, but we can better protect our environment.

Smith: Duvall says lack of broadband access doesn’t just affect farmers. The shortfall in modern technology hits all rural residents.

Duvall: The story that you hear about some young families having to take their children to McDonald’s or somewhere where there’s Wi-Fi to be able to finish up their schoolwork, it’s just unreasonable for our rural families to live under those conditions, so there’s a lot of areas that need it to improve our quality of life.

Smith: A bipartisan bill before Congress would better identify broadband availability in rural areas. Mapping would be done in smaller segments to create a clearer picture of which areas of the country are underserved.  

Duvall: It’s important to do that because they use that data to be able to take the money back to the areas that need to boost broadband. We need a really good picture of what the availability is so that they know how to send those monies.

Smith: Duvall says better broadband access would help farmers be more productive, boost the agriculture economy and make U.S. agriculture more competitive around the world. Chad Smith, Washington.

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