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Broadband Access a must, Farm Bureau tells House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee

WASHINGTON D.C. - Farmers and ranchers, who are already dealing with a drastic 50 percent drop in net farm income in the last four years, must have access to fixed and mobile broadband to be more efficient, economical and responsive to market needs, the American Farm Bureau Federation recently told members of a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee.

“Broadband is no longer a luxury, it’s a necessity. While most Americans take broadband for granted, data compiled by the Federal Communications Commission show that 26.4 percent of rural Americans lack access to broadband compared to only 1 percent of urban Americans,” AFBF President Zippy Duvall said in a letter to the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology. The letter was sent in advance of the subcommittee’s Sept. 11 hearing on improving national broadband maps.

Among the bills discussed at the hearing was the Farm Bureau-supported Broadband Data Improvement Act (H.R. 3162), which would improve the accuracy of broadband coverage maps and better direct federal funds for broadband buildout.

Specifically, the bill would correct the current method of mapping by requiring broadband providers to report data in a way that allows them to create a significantly more accurate and granular National Broadband Map. To that end, the measure includes a three-pronged data validation process that focuses on public feedback, third-party commercial datasets and on-the-ground field validation.

“More granular and accurate maps are critical to successfully target and distribute federal broadband programs; this is particularly true given that only limited funding is available and there is an overabundance of need,” Duvall wrote, pledging Farm Bureau’s support to help lawmakers achieve swift passage of the legislation.