Smith: The infrastructure in America is in desperate need of upgrades and improvements. The American Farm Bureau is hopeful that Congress will get to work on legislation that would authorize spending on those needed improvements. AFBF economist Megan Nelson highlighted infrastructure priorities for farmers and their rural communities.
Nelson: Infrastructure as a whole is extremely important for agriculture. And connecting rural areas to the global economy is of utmost importance. So, in those terms, I would say broadband, ensuring that rural roads and bridges are able to handle agricultural equipment, and make sure that we’re still maintaining our competitive advantage when exporting agricultural products.
Smith: She says infrastructure improvements and upgrades would give U.S. farmers a competitive advantage against countries like Brazil in the world marketplace.
Nelson: Being able to ensure that our rural roads and bridges are able to carry certain loads and not break down and not have to cause extra time and costs. It’ll be really important. Additionally, to broadband, there’s an estimated $65 billion that rural areas could see annually if broadband was available at the demand levels.
Smith: Nelson says there would be tremendous economic benefits to having new broadband infrastructure in place.
Nelson: We really do think that we could see tremendous benefits with nearly $13.1 billion in annual benefits to row crops, and $13.3 billion to specialty crops, and nearly $21 billion is estimated to be benefitting livestock. And, that’s just with broadband alone. With roads and other connectivity, really it’s pretty limitless.
Smith: Chad Smith, Washington.