Today, members of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) voted to urge Congress to continue funding for rural broadband access and pledged to unite stakeholders in the broadband space. The action item, sponsored by Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward and Virginia Commissioner of Agriculture Jewel Bronaugh, was considered by members as part of the 2020 NASDA Winter Policy Conference.
Broadband access and digitization have proved to be the greatest contributors to efficiency, innovation and sustainability across the American economy, yet farmers and ranchers eagerly await the day access to information and internet connection is assured in their communities.
“We all want to see rural business and communities thrive,” Missouri Director of Agriculture Chris Chinn said, who also serves as a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Precision Agriculture Task Force Member.
“Broadband access serves as the gatekeeper to financial prosperity,” Chinn said. “The key lies in the hands of Congress who can guarantee investments are made, and that federal agencies like the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and FCC deploy funding in areas it’s needed most.”
“NASDA is grateful for the $550 million devoted to the USDA Re-Connect program in the December minibus and the FCC’s ongoing investments. To continue this work, we ask Congress to prioritize long-term investments in rural communities that develop infrastructure compatible with connection demands,” said NASDA President and North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring.
Broadband access is fundamental to increasing resiliency in rural America, and NASDA members understand the necessity of bringing all stakeholders in the broadband space together to combine expertise and best serve rural communities.
“We’re asking Congress, USDA and the FCC to work with State Departments of Agriculture to create strong and reliable broadband connections until the needs of citizens in our rural communities are met.”
NASDA is a nonpartisan, nonprofit association which represents the elected and appointed commissioners, secretaries and directors of the departments of agriculture in all fifty states and four U.S. territories. NASDA grows and enhances agriculture by forging partnerships and creating consensus to achieve sound policy outcomes between state departments of agriculture, the federal government and stakeholders. Learn more about NASDA at www.nasda.org.