Precision Ag Bill Seeks Resolve to Broadband Connectivity Issues

Podcast / Newsline January 30, 2018

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New legislation in Congress would seek solutions to connecting precision agricultural equipment to broadband internet. Micheal Clements has more.

Clements: The Precision Agriculture Connectivity Act of 2018 would create a task force to evaluate high speed internet access on cropland and ranchland related to precision agriculture technologies. Supported by the Ag Broadband Coalition, which the American Farm Bureau Federation is a member of, the task force would develop policy recommendations to get farm equipment connected. AFBF congressional relations director R.J. Karney says the taskforce will identify connectivity challenges.

Karney: For farmers and ranchers, in order for them to fully utilize precision agricultural equipment, they need connectivity where the equipment is located, and that’s in cropland and in ranchland. What we need to know is how much broadband wireless connectivity is there for machines to fully utilize precision agricultural equipment.

Clements: FCC data shows 39 percent of rural Americans lack access to minimum broadband speeds, but there is no information about connectivity on farmland. Karney says farmers are turning to precision agricultural practices to streamline their farming practices, which require broadband connections.

Karney: When it comes to a farmer operating their farming business, they want to be the most efficient, economical and environmentally friendly. And, today’s farmers are using precision agricultural techniques to make decisions on a daily basis. What we need to know is how much wireless connectivity is there for the internet of things where tractors are talking to tractors.

Clements: Karney says farmers and ranchers need better access to broadband connections, and this legislation would address that need.

Karney: Connectivity, it’s essential for modern agriculture and the farmers and ranchers who grow our food. Many of the latest yield maximizing farming techniques require broadband connectivity for data collection and analysis, both performed on the farm, but also in remote data sensors. And this taskforce is to focus on what is the availability right now in cropland and in ranchland.

Clements: Micheal Clements, Washington.

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