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Russell Nemetz Rural America Needs Access to High Speed Rural Broadband
by Russell Nemetz, click here for bio

Program: Land & Livestock Report
Date: September 21, 2018

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Recently, farmers, ranchers and even local elected officials were in Washington, DC talking about an issue that everyone can agree on. And that’s increased access to wireless technology including cell and internet service-notably the race to 5G-is important to Rural America.

Currently efforts are underway in both Congress and the FCC to make this a reality and not just for the urban population but for Rural America as well.

Whitney Klasna is a producer from Lambert, Montana and is a member of Women Involved in Farm Economics or WIFE and the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association.

“We are just as important and have the necessities and needs to have access to timely information on our markets, news and information, weather as well as having new opportunities to find new markets for our products that we produce on our farms and ranches” said Klasna.

County commissioners like Phil Chamberland from Gunnison, Colorado agree.

“It’s important on many fronts for someone like me. As a county commissioner, I’m looking to keep the economic vitality of our community keeping pace with everyone else” said Chamberland. “And there’s just no doubt that broadband is one of those things that you can’t do without if you want to be able to keep up.”

Farming and ranching is a tough business for anyone but especially for young people. But Karolyn Zurn, the American Agri Women’s First Vice President from Callaway, Minnesota says high speed rural broadband gives them a fighting chance to survive.

“As we are having these issues, you have to think about the young farmers that are out there” said Zurn. “Whether they’re men or women. They’re already struggling to make their payments. They’re already struggling because of the low commodity prices. They’re trying to do marketing on slow internet. And then they’re losing money because of broadband issues.”

Precision agriculture is a new technology that’s helping farmers and ranchers-both young and old-become more efficient and in the end hopefully more profitable. Todd Nash is producer from Enterprise, Oregon where he also serves as a county commissioner. He says even as important as precision agriculture is-it’s still at the mercy of a strong rural broadband signal.

“It’s a changing world. In rural eastern Oregon, we have people that have invested hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars into technology that they can access thru wireless” said Nash.

For many in Rural America, access to health care can be a challenge. Lonnie Gilbert is a producer from Marianna, Florida and is a member of the National Black Growers Council. He’s also a first responder and says access to telemedicine is important.

“I believe thru telemedicine and telehealth the increase to 5G will help a lot of rural individuals where there isn’t great service now receive proper health care” said Gilbert. “It will also be a great asset to farmers.”

The good news is the feedback has been positive from both Congress and the FCC. But the FCC is poised to take action on this soon. That’s why it’s more important than ever that Rural America engages and shows it’s support for reducing regulatory barriers and streamlining the deployment of high-speed wireless infrastructure.

The FCC will vote on this important issue on September 25th. So, the time is now to urge Congress to act to reduce regulatory red tape and increase certainty for 5G broadband deployment. For more information on how to let your voice be heard, visit www.ruralag.org.

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