INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana Farm Bureau’s top priority for the 2021 legislative session is to expand broadband access to the unserved and underserved areas of the state. To continue to increase awareness for the need for high-speed, reliable broadband, it’s critical to highlight the types of issues Hoosier farmers and rural communities experience when trying to access the internet.
INFB identified several members from different parts of the state to illustrate the impact slow speeds and unreliable connections have on agriculture operations, e-learning and everyday connectivity.
Jeremy Barron, Whitley County farmer and INFB member:
“In order for us to remain competitive in a rural environment, we need to have connection to the outside world. That main connection is through high-speed internet and broadband access. My wife and I moved in order to get broadband that would support us working remotely. Slow internet speeds made it impossible to connect with others and do business around the globe.”
Brad Fruth, Beck’s Hybrids director of innovation and Miami County INFB member:
“Access to reliable broadband service and speed is going to be needed to run the next generation farm. Whether it’s precision agriculture or a livestock farmer implementing an automatic-feed-bin system, rural broadband access is needed to give farmers the ability to access that technology.”
Tom Milligan, retired Vermillion County farmer and INFB member:
“One of the reasons I got involved with economic development projects is brain drain. Too many people are leaving the rural communities. If we’re going to keep quality people here, we have to have jobs, housing and quality of life. For all those things, it’s now a necessity to have high-speed broadband access.”
Jamie Schilmiller, Floyd County small business owner, farmer and INFB member:
“Rural broadband has become a necessary utility, just like water and electricity. With children learning from home, operating a business and our family farm, we continue to struggle with a weak and unreliable signal that doesn’t always work. If farm families and rural communities are going to keep up with the rest of the world, it’s critical to continue modernizing technology in areas where broadband access is less than adequate.”
As part of the organization’s advocacy plan, INFB members are meeting with lawmakers weekly to reiterate the need for broadband. INFB also is surveying members to understand the specific issues members have with their current service including speeds, reliability, price and more. The results of that survey will be released later this month.
— Indiana Farm Bureau
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