The White House announced $714 million in USDA grants and loans to expand access to high-speed internet service in 19 states from South Carolina to California on Monday. With the new round of funding, the USDA has put $2.45 billion into rural broadband through its ReConnect program in the past 18 months.
Slow speeds, bad coverage and expensive service. These are just some of the concerns contained in nearly 300 public comments on Rural Broadband Pilot Program proposed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a review by the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting found.
Some 46 million people live in rural America, scattered across 72 percent of the U.S. landmass, and conditions in many rural communities “are incredibly challenging,” said Anne Hazlett, recently installed as head of the USDA’s rural economic development programs. During a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing, Hazlett agreed that “resources will be needed” for rural growth but deflected questions about whether more federal dollars should go into the programs.
Farmers, especially big operators, may be slightly more wired into the internet than rural Americans overall, and the urban-rural digital divide is narrowing, says a USDA report that provides a comparison with other measurements of the United States online. Based on a biennial survey of farmers, the USDA said 71 percent of U.S. farms have internet access.
In his first trip to Iowa since taking office, President Trump was introduced to high-technology, big-data dependent agriculture and said his $1 trillion infrastructure plan will expand broadband access in rural America. "We will rebuild rural America," said the president, with a prosperous farm sector as the lever for economic growth in rural communities.
Food regulators in China issued strict new rules, known as Order 27, "governing how food producers and operators — including related third-party computer platform and delivery service providers — store, market and transport their products sold online," said Food Safety News.
When they want to go on the Web, farmers are moving firmly to wireless and satellite connections and leaving behind the traditional terrestrial line, according to a biennial USDA report.
Rural broadband projects from South Carolina to Alaska will receive a total of $85.8 million in grants and loans to construct or upgrade internet service, said the USDA.
President Obama is to visit Cedar Falls, Iowa, today to promote widespread availability of high-speed Internet service, including in rural areas with poor or no service. As part of its efforts, the White House says USDA will re-open its Rural Broadband program with $40-$50 million in loans "to eligible rural carriers that invest in bringing high-speed broadband to unserved and under-served rural areas." USDA also is accepting applications through its Community Connect program, which provides grants for broadband projects.
While urban America has nearly universal access to wired broadband, the rate in rural America is 78 percent, according to industry data. USDA's 2012 Census of Agriculture says 70 percent of farms have Internet access but...
With a population of 2,300, Quitman, Mississippi, will be one of 10 communities in the state to get a 1 gigabyte per second broadband network, says the Daily Yonder.
While only one-fifth of the U.S. population, rural Americans account for half of people who don't use the Internet, say the Daily Yonder, citing a McKinsey and Co report.
Some 70 pct of U.S. farmers have Internet access, up 14 points in five years, says the new Census of Agriculture, based on a 2012 survey. After trailing for years, the farm access rate is similar to the U.S. avg. The Census Bureau says a 2011 survey found 72 pct of U.S. households used the Internet at home.
The Agriculture Department said it will release the full results of the Census of Agriculture on May 2, after more than a year of work.