Agricultural enterprises deliver high-quality food to the United States and the world. As our farmers and food processors compete in a global digital economy, broadband will help empower their businesses with applications that include everything from marketing to managing fertilizer applications. Yet farming most often occurs in Utah’s most remote and least populated regions. Broadband can help these valuable businesses bridge the digital divide and participate fully in local, national and world markets.
Broadband Benefits the Agricultural Sector
The web is an effective, low cost tool for farmers to market their products and reach new customers. Web-based sales are particularly useful for farms that sell directly to consumers or to niche markets. The Internet also allows farms and food processors to reduce their costs and increase their competitiveness. Many small or new businesses rely on used or specialty equipment that is difficult to find. The web gives them access to equipment across the country and world.
Also, as the number of local distributors of seed, fertilizer, equipment, etc. decline, fast Internet access becomes essential. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but a digital picture of a broken part sent to the distributor may be worth several thousand dollars in repair costs and lost time. High-speed broadband also provides farmers access to business tools and other applications from around the world to better run their farms, such as a Utah farm using foreign software to manage its Community Supported Agriculture business.
New “cloud” applications help better manage various aspects of a farm, from managing inventory to monitoring chemical applications or tracking markets, and increase the need for high-speed access.
For today’s farmer, access to broadband is increasingly a necessity to successfully manage a farm, market products and to communicate with suppliers, customers and markets around the world.
In addition to broadband, agriculture also needs to look at several other factors. Do farms and farmers have the right technological tools to leverage broadband? Do existing process and procedures permit use of broadband and are existing personnel trained to use such technologies?
The Utah Broadband Project can provide education, awareness, and facilitate communication of broadband opportunities. But we also need to understand how the agricultural sector wants to use broadband, and the barriers and challenges you face for integrating it into your business.
Federal Communication Commission (FCC) National Broadband Plan
The FCC’s National Broadband Plan includes a set of ambitious goals and aspirations for broadband, agriculture and rural communities. And it is just the starting point for conversations that will be held in this state and across the nation about the best way to deliver and use broadband. The Plan’s recommendations include:
- Give small businesses and their employees the broadband training they need to remain competitive in the global economy. Small businesses account for a majority of the more than 1.2 million new jobs generated by the growth of the Internet during the last 10 to 15 years. The Small Business Administration and the FCC’s Office of Communications Business Opportunities should work in conjunction with leading private firms from the communication and technology sectors to provide broadband tools and training to small businesses. This kind of training will take proven ideas and practices and help more American entrepreneurs apply them in the digital economy.
- Keep American communities competitive and innovative in the 21st century economy by putting broadband at the forefront of regional development. Broadband allows regions and communities to compete globally, attracting new firms, investments and jobs with next generation communications infrastructure. Looking ahead, American communities without broadband will find themselves left out of the digital revolution. Local economic development plans and federal programs must take this into account when assessing the economic prospects of a community.