Vilsack on ReConnect Program
Vilsack says USDA is responsible for improving existing internet service, and the latest $502 million in grants and loans will help do that …
VILSACK … “Many parts of the country today still have limited internet access in terms of upload and download speeds that simply don’t allow for multiple uses at home, don’t accommodate distance learning and telemedicine, and don’t allow businesses to expand market opportunities, and would not allow farmers the opportunity at precision agriculture.”
But a bigger question is the build-out of fiber in underserved areas and interagency cooperation among USDA, FCC, and National Telecommunications and Information Administration.
Vilsack rebuffed bipartisan concerns that such cooperation … is lacking …
VILSACK … “We’ve been very conscientious about making sure that there’s not a duplication of effort, and that we’re not providing resources unnecessarily to an area that already has coverage or is accessing other resources. So, the collaboration has been better than, I guess, perhaps we need to do a better job of communicating the fact that we are communicating.”
But Vilsack’s Undersecretary for Rural Development, Xochitl (Zoh-CHEEL) Torres Small says coordination is, “Hard. There are ‘silos.’ People are used to working within their agencies.”