Bridging the Digital Divide: It’s time to meet the evolving needs of rural communities

Tech leaders address urgent connectivity needs in Rural America at House Subcommittee Hearing on Communication and Technology this week in Washington.

Rural communities across the United States are raising their voices, underscoring the importance of access to high-speed internet. This week’s House Subcommittee for Communications and Technology meeting brought in several tech leaders for a hearing on the future of rural broadband funding.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has been working on expanding high-speed internet access in rural America since 2018, investing over a billion dollars in various projects. Recently, the USDA allocated $700 million to 22 states to further connect rural residents, farmers, and business owners.

“Our rural communities know to ask for fiber because other technologies failed. However, fiber is the most expensive to deploy,” said Sara Nichols, Senior Planner at the Land of Sky Regional Council of Government.

Nichols went on to highlight recent funding opportunities, such as the American Rescue Plan and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, as a chance to alleviate connectivity issues. The expansion of fiber networks empowers rural areas to compete on equal footing with urban counterparts and lays the groundwork for other technological advancements.

“We need more funding to build fiber not just in the last mile but also middle-mile networks that connect our communities,” she said, calling on Congress to support broadband programs and digital equity initiatives in recognition that the work is far from over and needs meet the evolving needs of rural communities.

Agriculture Shows
From soil to harvest. Top Crop is an all-new series about four of the best farmers in the world—Dan Luepkes, of Oregan, Illinois; Cory Atley, of Cedarville, Ohio; Shelby Fite, of Jackson Center, Ohio; Russell Hedrick, of Hickory, North Carolina—reveals what it takes for them to make a profitable crop. It all starts with good soil, patience, and a strong planter setup.
Champions of Rural America is a half-hour dive into the legislative priorities for Rural America. Join us as we interview members of the Congressional Western Caucus to learn about efforts in Washington to preserve agriculture and tackles the most important topics in the ag industry on Champions of Rural America!
Farm Traveler is for people who want to connect with their food and those who grow it. Thanks to direct-to-consumer businesses, agritourism, and social media, it’s now easier than ever to learn how our food is made and support local farmers. Here on the Farm Traveler, we want to connect you with businesses offering direct-to-consumer products you can try at home, agritourism sites you can visit with your family, and exciting new technologies that are changing how your food is being grown.
Featuring members of Congress, federal and state officials, ag and food leaders, farmers, and roundtable panelists for debates and discussions.
Host Ben Bailey hops in the tractor cab, giving farmers 10 minutes to answer as many questions and grab as much cash as they can for their local FFA chapter.