Agriculture and connectivity

Source: Norfolk Daily News | U.S. Senator Deb Fischer and Brendan Carr

For generations, Nebraskans have been known around the world for the high-quality goods produced on the state’s farms and ranches. These agricultural families value tradition, hard work, and the land they live on. In the digital era, agriculture producers of the 21st century are looking to utilize new information technologies to increase their productivity and success.

Digital tags inform the rancher about the health of the herd. Embedded sensors tell the farmer an array of details on soil moisture levels.

These and other processes are known collectively as precision agriculture, which can help farmers and ranchers make better decisions while running their businesses. In fact, precision agriculture is having one of the most pronounced impacts on ag production since the industrial revolution.

At a visit Tuesday to Northeast Community College in Norfolk, we heard from instructors and students about their exciting precision agriculture curriculum. We look forward to learning more about geographic information systems, the principles of data-based decision making, and how the next generation of ag producers are preparing to modernize agriculture — the backbone of Nebraska’s economy.

Precision agriculture generates incredibly useful information for producers, helping them to be more efficient. But for producers to take advantage of these innovative processes that gather, transmit, and analyze vast amounts of data, Nebraskans, and all Americans, need sufficient internet connectivity.

In rural America today, the broadband needed to support precision agriculture applications isn’t always available. If you’re in the middle of a soybean field and want to access a smart arming app on your mobile phone, chances are, you won’t have a connection. Or if you want to upload the data collected by your smart ag applications to the cloud, where it can be analyzed and put to productive use, you may need to wait for hours while a slow internet connection gets the job done.

But working together with our colleagues in Congress and at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), we are seeking to eliminate the gaps in internet connectivity contributing to the digital divide between urban and rural communities.

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