Word from Farmfest: “Broadband is crucial”

KEYC News reports on the first day of Farmfest…

Panelists also expressed the importance of broadband infrastructure, something Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D – Minnesota), who is participating in Farmfest virtually this year, is working for in the federal infrastructure package.

“It’s $65 billion and the money is to be used to get higher speed Internet and then to areas that have no Internet at all,” she said.

Broadband infrastructure is something farmers, like Perry Oftedahl, say is crucial.

“We need it out there in rural Minnesota. Farming has gotten to be so much precision agriculture, so there’s a lot of need for the iPads and cellphones the guidance systems are on. We need better connections out here,” he said.

US Rep Fischbach puts broadband on top of list for Ag Committee priorities

Alexandria Echo Press reports…

In 2020, Republican Rep. Michelle Fischbach beat Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson, then the committee chairman. She served many years in the Minnesota Senate before that.

She emailed a list of her priorities on the ag committee, starting off with broadband…

Ensure adequate access to broadband internet. “More than one in five farms in Minnesota’s Seventh Congressional District currently lack access to high-speed internet,” the email said. It added that broadband access is important for agriculture as well as for remote schooling and telehealth.

Precision Ag, not just for early adopters anymore – as heard on Community Networks podcast

I find precision ag intriguing. I love getting tours. (Hint, hint.) I think it’s amazing how math can help harness nature. So I was delighted to see that Chris Mitchell spoke with Julie Bushell, President of Paige Wireless and Co-chair of Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) Precision Ag Connectivity Task Force on the Community Networks podcast.

One thing that struck me was when Julie was talking about livestream video drone footage, she noted that drone footage is not bleeding edge, it’s standard. It’s standard for those who have access anyway. In an industry where money is made by pennies in pounds, any slight advantage or disadvantage makes a world of difference.

They talk about farming but also about the impact of having better broadband in a community. It helps start businesses. It keeps kids in town for another generation.

Julie notes that for funding we’ve always looked at only home and business. There may be just one home in a 1,000 acre home but that may include a lot of devices. We need to consider the Internet of Things, the internet of precision ag when we’re looking at federal funding.

Also need someone working on connectivity from the device side – we need standards that make it easy to connect no matter what the mode.

Minnesota Farm Bureau makes broadband a priority – hear from the fields

Brownfield Ag News for America reports

Broadband access remains insufficient for many in rural America.

And northern Minnesota cow/calf rancher Miles Kuschel tells Brownfield the COVID-19 pandemic has illuminated the issue.

“If it’s given us an insight into one thing, it’s the absolute need for high-speed broadband across all of Rural America. Whether it’s distance learning, telemedicine, Zoom conferences or annual meetings.”

Kuschel is a district director for Minnesota Farm Bureau and says at the state and national level, Farm Bureau has made rural broadband a priority.

“Definitely a big help because the legislators are hearing it loud and clear, and (they) are also experiencing the frustrations when it comes to rural broadband. Especially when you have a remote legislative session like they’re participating in right now.”

American Farm Bureau supports using the Universal Service Fund as well as a combination of tax incentives and grants to expand broadband deployment to rural areas.

EVENT Feb 3: Public Good App House: Apps that Address Food Insecurity

I thought this event might be of interest to readers. Even if you can’t attend the online event, TechSoup shares a nice list of resources to research in your own time…

Food insecurity affects about a quarter of the world’s population and more than 80 percent of US food banks are serving more people now than they did a year ago.

How can we apply technology towards these challenges? Join our next Public Good App House demo event and discover four apps that address food insecurity.



United Nations World Food Programme

ShareTheMeal is the mobile fundraising app from the United Nations World Food Programme. The app allows users to ‘share their meal’ with a hungry child with just a tap and $0.80, feeding 1 child for a day.


Reduce food waste and feed people affordably using Flashfood. Users get massive savings on fresh food items like meat and produce that are nearing their best before date at grocery stores across Canada and the U.S.

MealConnect 2.0

Feeding America

Since 2014, MealConnect has been facilitating local food donations for community hunger relief organizations. In just a few months, Feeding America will launch functions allowing produce growers to donate crops anywhere in the country and enable Feeding America food banks to more easily share bounty with their lower-resourced peer food banks.


Code for America

Code for America built GetCalFresh to be the most human-centered, mobile-friendly, and efficient way to apply for the SNAP (also known as “food stamps”) program. Code for America will share lessons learned while building the app, and what’s coming next for helping Californians get the money for food that they’re entitled to.

Making a short list for the Farm Bill? Remember broadband.

The Marshall Independent is reporting from Farmfest on conversations happening on the Farm Bill. He’s a very abbreviated broadband take what they are talking about…

Dozens of farmers, ranchers and organizational leaders voiced their opinion on what should be in the next Farm Bill to U.S. House Agricultural Committee members, drawing a big crowd to the Farmfest Forum building for 2-and-1/2 hours Thursday. …

[Minnesota Farmers Union President Gary] Wertish said broadband expansion to rural areas, high healthcare costs are huge issues. …

Minnesota Association of Townships Executive Director Gary Pedersen said rural broadband expansion should be considered a “have to be” and a utility.

It’s a really interesting list  of “must haves” – worth a read. I was glad and not surprised to see broadband mentioned.