USDA should push for rural broadband, worker safety, say former ag secretaries

While the pandemic and climate change will be at the top of the agenda in the Biden administration, the USDA should pursue full access to broadband service in rural America, said three former agriculture secretaries on Tuesday. One of them, Mike Espy, also said the USDA should refuse to buy products from meat processors who fail to protect workers from the coronavirus.

Small share of coronavirus package for food aid and farmers

The final coronavirus aid package of the year would direct 3 percent of its $900 billion in funding to food assistance and relief for agricultural producers, according to its Democratic and Republican sponsors. "It's a deal that must come together," said one of the sponsors, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, on Sunday.

Biden: Fast on broadband, slow on China

President-elect Joe Biden supports greater broadband access and more funding for rural healthcare, and says he will not immediately remove President Trump's tariffs on Chinese products, according to a column in the New York Times on Wednesday.

More coronavirus tests, broadband needed in rural America, say Senate Democrats

Covid-19 cases have been reported in more than two-thirds of rural counties, said a report by Senate Democrats, who called for nationwide rapid-response testing for the coronavirus and for expansion of high-speed internet to maintain commerce and healthcare in rural areas. (No paywall)

House Ag chair Peterson, a GOP target, runs for re-election

Minnesota Rep. Collin Peterson, a conservative Democrat in a Republican-leaning district, announced he would seek re-election in November, saying he was worried rural America is being left behind. President Trump has endorsed a Republican challenger against Peterson, who chairs the House Agriculture Committee, in a contest that is regarded as a toss-up.

Trump backs high-speed internet access, ‘especially’ in rural America

With rural Americans continuing to suffer a digital divide, President Trump said on Tuesday that he was committed to ensuring “every citizen can have access to high-speed internet, including — and especially in — rural America.” The White House provided no immediate details but the Federal …

FCC establishes $20 billion fund for rural broadband

In what it described as its biggest step yet to close the digital divide, the Federal Communications Commission voted on Thursday to establish a “rural digital opportunity fund” to provide up to $20 billion over 10 years for high-speed internet networks in rural America.

Digital divide persists, though 53 percent of farms conduct business on internet

More than half of U.S. farm operators say they do business over the internet, a 13-point increase in six years, as ownership of computers and access to the internet blossomed, according to USDA. Nonetheless, the Pew Research Center says rural Americans are much less likely than their city counterparts to have a smartphone or broadband service at home.

USDA’s rural broadband plan met with citizen criticism

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.