US Senate Commerce Committee approves bill to aid rural broadband deployment

The High Plains Midwest Ag Journal reports…

The Senate Commerce Committee April 25 approved the “Precision Agriculture Connectivity Act of 2018,” as sponsored by Senators Roger Wicker, R-MS, and Amy Klobuchar, D-MN.

The bill would direct the Federal Communications Commission to establish a task force to identify gaps in broadband connectivity for the nation’s cropland and ranchland. The measure also instructs the agency to develop ways to help encourage broadband adoption and precision agriculture in areas where it is currently unavailable.

Senator Klobuchar had this to say…

Klobuchar said, “We still have work to do to close the digital divide between rural and urban communities. In a 21st century economy that demands efficiency, farmers and ranchers are too often unable to take advantage of new technologies due to limited broadband access. This bipartisan legislation will promote broadband deployment and precision agriculture technology to help Minnesota farmers streamline their operations, improve crop yields and boost their bottom line.”

Here are more details:

Specifically, the legislation outlines these tasks for the new FCC task force:

Identify and measure current gaps in broadband coverage on cropland and ranchland;

Develop policy recommendations, in consultation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to promote the rapid, expanded deployment of fixed and mobile broadband on cropland and ranchland, with the goal of achieving service on 95 percent of croplands and ranchlands in the U.S. by 2025;

Recommend specific steps the FCC should consider to ensure that available farm data from the USDA is reflected in the development of future FCC programs dedicated to the deployment of broadband infrastructure to croplands and ranchlands; and

Develop a public report detailing the status of fixed and mobile broadband coverage on croplands and ranchlands; the projected future connectivity needs of agricultural operations, farmers, and ranchers; and the steps being taken to accurately measure the availability of broadband on croplands and ranchlands and the limitations of current measurement processes.

This entry was posted in economic development, Policy by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

I have a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science. I have been interested or involved in providing access to information through the Internet since 1994, when I worked for Minnesota’s first Internet service provider. I am pleased to be a part of the Blandin on Broadband Team. I also work with MN Coalition on Government Information, Minnesota Rural Partners, and the American Society for Information Science and Technology.

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