Nov 9, 2017
Testimony: Rural growers need broadband internet

A tech company CEO told Congress this week that rural growers will need broadband Internet access to take advantage of new technologies in the agricultural sector.

Tim Hassinger is president and CEO of Nebraska-based Lindsay Corporation, which provides tools for remote management and data collection to the agricultural sector. He testified during a hearing Nov. 7 conducted by the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.

The hearing was titled Advancing the Internet of Things in Rural America, with the “internet of things” referring to the concept of appliances and other devices being networked with each other and linked to the internet.

The hearing focused on the benefits of the internet of things in rural communities and the infrastructure needs necessary to ensure rural America has access to cutting-edge products and devices.

“Like all business owners, farmers in rural communities need the ability to go online,” Hassinger said. “The internet fuels the innovative, advanced technology that will help America’s farmers meet the food, fuel and fiber needs of our rapidly growing global population.”

Hassinger testified that with reliable, high-speed Internet access, farmers can take advantage of tools that deliver hyper-local weather forecasts, real time data on soil moisture conditions and GPS for planting and irrigation management.

“At Lindsay Corporation, we are developing and deploying technologies to help growers produce more with less … but we know the technology is only as good as the farmer’s ability to access it,” Hassinger said.

According to the Federal Communications Commission Broadband Access Report, an estimated 39 percent of the rural population (23.4 million Americans) lack access to broadband that meets today’s benchmark speeds of 25 Mbps for downloads and 3 Mbps for uploads. By contrast, only 4 percent of urban Americans lack access to 25/3 Mbps broadband.

“While cities and municipalities typically have access to several high-speed Internet service providers, that access often ends at the city limits. Those living in rural communities must depend on radio networks, satellite or cell service – all of which typically operate at lower speeds, limiting connectivity,” Hassinger said. “All farmers are faced with the pressure to increase yields while conserving resources. The lack of reliable broadband hinders their ability to adopt the new technologies that will help them optimize their operations and compete in the global marketplace.”

Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett said Nov. 6 that USDA is investing more than $200 million in infrastructure projects to bring broadband to hundreds of unserved and underserved rural communities.

Above: Tim Hassinger, president and CEO of Lindsay Corporation, speaks to a U.S. Senate Committee regarding the need for improved access to rural broadband service.

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