With high-tech agricultural machinery that relies on wireless connections, alongside ever-increasing online opportunities for farmers, such as interacting with potential partners and buyers and being able to sell products to a wider range of consumers, connectivity is becoming increasingly important. for modern agriculture.
But not all farms have access to the benefits of the online world. According to USDAabout 22% of Americans in rural areas and 27% in tribal lands lack access to the high-speed connection that urban residents rely on.
And farmers increasingly need the Internet. The data of the Use and Ownership of USDA Agricultural Computers in 2021 The report shows that 29% of farms used the internet to purchase agricultural inputs in 2021, an increase of 5% from 2019. The report found that only 50% of internet-connected farms had access to the internet via broadband, and 70% of connected farms relied primarily on cellular data for connection.
In an effort to connect more rural residents to the internet, the Biden administration this week announced a $401 million plan to expand broadband access in the United States.
The plan will provide high-speed Internet access to more than 30,000 residents in 11 states: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, North Dakota and Texas.
Rural areas often lack the infrastructure that would allow access to broadband networks, and the financial burden of setting it up is not necessarily lucrative for Internet service providers, leading to complications in connectivity in rural areas.
The money from the new regime, which will be accessible through the USDA Reconnect loan and grant program, will go towards building and improving internet infrastructure in all states, thereby increasing rural areas’ access to broadband networks.
Speaking to the press, Biden infrastructure coordinator Mitch Landrieu said, “Rural communities are the backbone of our nation and have a broad impact on our economy, but for too long rural communities have overlooked or left behind and under-recognized for their contributions. We’re changing that, and it starts with making sure rural communities are connected to affordable, reliable high-speed internet.
Rural Internet connectivity issues have been supported by USDA funding for years. The ReConnect program was launched in 2018 and provides funding through federal grants and loans to increase the installation of internet infrastructure in rural America. To date, the program has invested nearly $1 billion in broadband connectivity.
More details on Biden’s new plan are expected in the coming weeks.