The Senate Commerce Committee has approved a bill (S. 2343) that would create a task force to focus on the connectivity and technology needs of modern ag producers who are too often without broadband in their fields and ranches. According to the FCC, 39 percent of rural Americans lack access to 25 Mbps/3 Mbps service, compared to only 4 percent of urban Americans. Mbps stands for megabits per second. The American Farm Bureau Federation notes that today’s tractors, harvesters and other farm equipment gather vast amounts of data to determine the precise amount of seed, water, crop protection products and nutrients to deliver based on soil conditions down to the square inch. Such precision maximizes yield, lowers environmental impact and improves profitability at a time when farmers must watch every penny to survive. Even so, AFBF says all that data must be processed somewhere, and to do that farmers need high-speed connections that link their equipment to far-off data centers. It calls the bill “an important milestone in delivering broadband service crucial to the operation of modern farming equipment.” The Precision Agriculture Connectivity Act of 2018 was sponsored by Senators Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.
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