Sec. Perdue says fixing broadband solves many issues for ag industry

To move forward in solving many of the ag industry’s challenges like labor, aging farmers, and environmental sustainability, Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue says that the industry needs to start with one specific problem-- broadband connectivity.

Secretary Perdue says that 2020 has taught the industry that it is only getting worse.

“We’ve talked about all of the advantages technology can bring to the ag sector and the food production sector, what is it dependent on? It’s dependent on connectivity, and we are really exacerbating the digital divide in the United States, and that’s one of the things that the pandemic has showed us,” he said.

He also noted that bridging that divide is as important as bringing electricity to rural America was in the 1930s

“This is no longer a luxury, it’s no longer a ‘nice-to-have’, it’s become a staple of the modern global economy,” he said. “When it comes to ensuring the success of rural America, connection to tele-education, telehealth, and e-commerce is key.”

Some say that federal aid to rural areas and federal dollars for rural broadband have fallen short. While the House’s new coronavirus aid bill included funds for broadband, it does not include language about creating permanent connectivity in areas that are currently undeserved.