Broadband is near the top of the list, the organization’s president said
By Diego Flammini
More than 200 members of Indiana’s ag community gathered virtually on Aug. 29 to start charting the legislative priorities for the state’s Farm Bureau in 2021.
A total of 233 delegates consisting of farmers and agribusinesses representatives discussed the organization’s position on topics like permits, broadband, transportation, infrastructure and the effects of COVID-19.
Access to broadband in rural communities is near the top of the list in terms of importance for the organization.
Between farmers transferring data between equipment and cloud storage services, and students needing access to broadband for remote learning, helping the state government come up with a long-term plan is important.
“Broadband is probably the (issue) that comes to the top of the stack right now,” Indiana Farm Bureau president Randy Kron said during the virtual meeting, WFYI reported. “And a lot of concerns about rural areas which, you know, has been heightened because of COVID-19.”
Broadband access overall has become an important issue for Americans.
53 percent of surveyed people said the internet has been essential during the pandemic, a Pew Research Center report said.
On a state level, about 67 percent of Indiana’s rural population had access to broadband in 2019. That figure puts the state about 28th in the country for rural broadband capabilities, Mainstream Fiber Networks said.
Since the pandemic started, the USDA has invested in rural broadband in Indiana.
In June, the Pulaski-White Rural Telephone Cooperative received a $19 million loan to install 355 miles of Fiber-to-the-Home technology in the Buffalo and Star City exchanges in the state.
Farms.com has reached out to members of the Indiana ag community for comment.