On Tuesday, Washington Representative Kim Schrier participated in a House Ag Committee hearing focused on rural broadband. Lawmakers focused not only on internet connectivity needs, but also opportunities that exist in rural America. Schrier said a lack of broadband access in rural Washington holds the farming community back in a variety of ways.
“Limited rural connectivity for both internet and telephones means that residents and public agencies cannot reliably hold meetings or meaningful public discussions. This creates a two-tiered system where part of our country has access to everything – information and technology and jobs – and the rest is left behind.”
Schrier noted the pandemic has highlighted this problem and the need for the federal government to assist. She added if American farmers are going to lead the way with the latest ag equipment, they need updated tools.
“I know everybody on this committee is excited about precision ag as a way to really limit the resources, whether that’s inputs, fertilizers, water, that we need to have successful agriculture.”
Schrier said she will soon introduce legislation to create a yearlong competitive grant program available to established state broadband offices with the goal of improving broadband connectivity. Funds from this bill can be used for innovative efforts to reach communities, such as:
- Mapping and data collection to target underserved and unserved areas
- Evaluating broadband costs and local community needs
- Increasing network resiliency from natural disasters
- Assisting underserved farmers and growers access technology to increase productivity.
If you have a story idea for the PNW Ag Network, call (509) 547-1618, or e-mail [email protected]