Women holding laptop in field as corn stalks are baled in evening light. Jevtic/Thinkstock

Precision Ag Connectivity Act introduced

Act establishes task force to identify gaps in high-speed internet connectivity.

The Precision Agriculture Connectivity Act of 2018 was introduced Jan. 25 in a bipartisan, bicameral effort.

The legislation was introduced in the Senate by Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and in the House by Congressmen Bob Latta, R-Ohio, and Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa. 

The Precision Agriculture Connectivity Act of 2018 would direct the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to establish a task force to identify gaps in high-speed internet connectivity for the nation’s cropland and ranchland. Within a year, the task force is intended to bring together public and private stakeholders to evaluate current programs affecting broadband internet access on cropland and ranchland, identify and measure existing gaps in coverage, and develop policy recommendations to address that gap. The task force is also charged with developing specific steps the FCC, USDA and other federal agencies can take to address gaps in coverage.

The measure also instructs the agency to develop ways to help encourage broadband adoption and precision agriculture in areas where it is unavailable. The bill is cosponsored by Sens. Steve Daines, R-Mont., and Jon Tester, D-Mont.

“Farmers and ranchers are too often unable to take advantage of new technologies due to limited broadband infrastructure in rural areas— this is unacceptable in a 21st Century economy that demands efficiency,” Klobuchar said.

“Precision agriculture technologies are already changing the way American farmers do business,” Wicker said. “With increased efficiencies, higher yields, and more information, producers are better equipped to compete globally and provide American consumers with high-quality farm products. Rural broadband expansion is the key to unlocking this revolutionary technology.” 

The Agricultural Broadband Coalition applauded the introduction of the Precision Agriculture Connectivity Act of 2018 calling it a milestone piece of legislation that will help to revolutionize farming across the United States. 

“Bringing together the Agriculture Department, the Federal Communications Commission and public and private stakeholders to address the needs of precision agriculture ensures current and future generations of farmers and ranchers will have the necessary connectivity to achieve optimal yields, lower environmental impact and maximize profit,” American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said.

“This legislation creates a clear mandate for the FCC to work with other branches of government to develop a comprehensive strategy to both update our rural infrastructure, and ensure that those investments meet the needs of farmers and ranchers, and the machinery on which they rely to feed the world,” said Nick Tindall, senior director for the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), the chair of the Agricultural Broadband Coalition. 

Source: AFBF, Sen. Klobuchar’s office

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