‘Precision Agricultural’ Broadband Bill Advances in U.S. House

The legislation would create a task force within the Federal Communications Commission focused on extending connectivity for self-driving machinery and drones.

by Elizabeth Meyer, The Hawk Eye / July 27, 2018

(TNS) — Iowa Rep. Dave Loebsack successfully moved legislation through the U.S. House of Representatives this week to help farmers access "cutting-edge" broadband technology.

Loebsack, representing the 2nd Congressional District, which includes southeast Iowa, wrote the Precision Agriculture Connectivity Act with Republican Rep. Bob Latta of Ohio.

The bipartisan bill establishes a task force within the Federal Communications Commission, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, "to evaluate the best ways to meet the broadband connectivity and technological needs of precision agriculture."

Precision agriculture includes advanced 21st-century technology like self-driving machinery, drones and satellites farmers can use to maximize crop yields and take better care of their land. Lack of access to high-speed internet in rural areas, however, can hamper farmers' access to the new tools.

"As I travel across Iowa meeting with farmers, I am continuously impressed with the advanced technology they are using to assist in planting and monitoring their crops," said Loebsack, in a statement Monday. "I am pleased to work with Rep. Latta on this legislation, which passed the House by a large bipartisan vote, to help ensure our nation's farmers have the best information available on meeting their broadband needs."

As a member of the House Rural Broadband Caucus in Congress, Loebsack has worked to improve internet connectivity across rural Iowa with legislation like the Rural Wireless Act, signed into law earlier this year.

The task force that will be established to study rural broadband access for farmers will be comprised of farmers and ranchers, internet service providers, broadband mapping experts, and representatives from the satellite industry, electronic cooperatives, precision agriculture equipment manufacturers, and local and state government representatives.

Duties of the task force include identifying and measuring current gaps in internet coverage on farmland; developing policy recommendations to expand internet access on agricultural land; and recommending steps the FCC and USDA should take to target funding toward the goal of achieving reliable internet service on 95 percent of farmland by 2025.

©2018 The Hawk Eye (Burlington, Iowa) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.