Commissioner Weathers: Precision Agriculture Connectivity Act

E-Connectivity is a hot topic in agricultural news and politics. Commissioner Hugh Weathers is here to tell us what he learned at NASDA about the new Precision Agriculture Connectivity Act of 2018 and the importance of E-Connectivity.

 

  • As a member of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) I took a trip to Washington, DC last week for their annual Winter Policy Conference.
  • I was asked to lead a session that was called Achieving e-Connectivity for Rural America
  • The Precision Agriculture Connectivity Act of 2018 requires the Federal Communications Commission to establish a task force for meeting the connectivity and technology needs of precision agriculture in United States
  • The task force will:
  • Identify and measure current gaps in broadband coverage
  • Assemble a comprehensive guide of all federal programs or resources dedicated to expanding broadband
  • Develop policy recommendations, to promote the rapid, expanded deployment of fixed and mobile high-speed broadband
  • The goal of achieving service on 95 percent of croplands and ranchlands in the United States by 2025
  • Recommend specific steps the FCC can take to ensure that available farm data from the USDA is reflected in developing Federal programs to deploy broadband to croplands and ranchlands
  • Submit an annual report to Congress
  • Precision agriculture technologies and practices allow farmers to significantly increase crop yields, eliminate overlap in operations, and reduce inputs such as seed, fertilizer, pesticides, water, and fuel.
  • These technologies allow farmers to collect data in real time about their fields, automate field management, and maximize resources.
  • Studies estimate that precision agriculture technologies can reduce agricultural operation costs by up to 25 dollars per acre and increase farm yields by up to 70 percent by 2050.
  • Broadband is the critical link that allows agribusinesses to thrive, teleworking, distance learning, telemedicine and relocation of businesses to rural America
  • By streamlining deployment, allowing access to existing infrastructure, and reducing barriers to buildout, risk can be reduced
  • Providers will then be encouraged to expand networks throughout rural America.
  • I am very hopeful the Precision Agriculture Connectivity Act of 2018 is going to positively impact every rural farmer in South Carolina.