A case for rural broadband

Deployment of both broadband internet and next-generation precision agriculture technology on farms and ranches throughout the U.S. could result in at least $47 billion in national economic benefits every year, according to USDA’s rural broadband report released in early May.

If broadband infrastructure and digital technologies were available at a level that meets esti­mated producer demand, the U.S. economy could realize benefits equivalent to nearly 18 percent of total agriculture production. Of that 18 percent, more than one-third is dependent on broadband access, equivalent to at least $18 billion in annual economic bene­fits that only high-speed, reliable internet can provide.

For years, USDA and the Ameri­can agriculture industry have been actively researching the feasibility, usage and potential upside of next-generation precision agricul­ture technologies, which include data collection and analysis. Until now though, the interde­pendency of these technologies and broadband internet has not been evaluated. The new report explores this relationship and quantifies the potential economic benefit of broadband buildout and the complementary adoption of connected agriculture technol­ogies.

The analysis opens the next chapter in USDA’s response to expand rural broadband and effectively use federal tax dollars in those efforts. Going forward, USDA will be engaged in multiple facets of infrastructure and technology deployment, including financing rural capital investments and supporting producers who are exploring which precision technologies are best suited to improve their operations and serve their customers.

The entire report, A Case for Rural Broadband: Insights on Rural Broadband Infrastructure and Next Generation Precision Agriculture Technologies, is available online at www.usda.gov/broadband. You can find other infograph­ics like the one below in the report PDF. In addition to row crops, infographics for livestock and specialty crops are there.

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