Rural Broadband is Key to Support Modern Farm Technologies

Podcast / Newsline May 10, 2018

Credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture / CC BY 2.0 

Rural Broadband is critical to the support and advancement of modern agriculture technologies. Micheal Clements has more.

Clements:  A priority for the American Farm Bureau Federation, access to quality rural broadband is critical to support modern farm technologies. Zach Hunnicutt, a Farm Bureau member from Nebraska, took part in a White House meeting Thursday on technology in business and says farmers need quality rural broadband to support their operations.

Hunnicutt: The FCC defines broadband speeds as 25 megabits per second download, three megabits per second upload. The technology we’re trying to use, that’s nowhere near adequate. If we’re using lots of photos and videos and trying to transmit lots of data to understand what’s going on on our farms better, those speeds aren’t anywhere near what we need.

Clements: Technology has already advanced to allow farmers to capture their work in the field, but with slow or no broadband connections, there is no way to connect outside the farm for expertise.

Hunnicutt: We would be able to be capturing videos constantly from what we are doing, capturing pictures constantly from what we’re doing, but we wouldn’t have any way to have those analyzed or do anything other than just what we have at our home. Being able to access cloud services, being able to access expertise off the farm just isn’t an option as you get very big files.  It creates a hurdle for analyzing the information we're able to capture.

Clements: As agriculture technologies advance, Hunnicutt says farmers and ranchers need access to quality broadband.

Hunnicutt: As technology improves and improves you’re going to be able to pick out individual weeds out in fields and be able to scout for diseases. Obviously, we can do that now, but we can do it better with technology. But, until we have ways to really move that data around in a quick and efficient manner, we’re pretty limited in what we can do from that standpoint.

Clements: Micheal Clements, Washington.

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