House passes precision ag bill
The House on Monday passed H.R. 4881, the Precision Agriculture Connectivity Act, written by Reps. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, and Bob Latta, R-Ohio, to establish a Federal Communications Commission task force with the Agriculture Department to evaluate how to meet the broadband connectivity and technological needs of precision agriculture.
Loebsack and Latta are co-chairs of the House Rural Broadband Caucus.
“Precision agriculture is the use of technology like the Internet of Things (IoT), self-driving machinery, drones and satellites to operate farms in a more effective and efficient manner,” Loebsack said in a news release.
“Precision agriculture provides farmers with the ability to improve productivity and sustainability,” said Latta. “Unfortunately, many rural areas lack high-speed broadband which is needed to utilize this cutting-edge technology.”
“By having the FCC, USDA, and private stakeholders work together, we can reduce barriers to the implementation of innovation like self-driving equipment, the ‘Internet of Things,‘ and satellite imagery. I want to thank Congressman Loebsack for working with me on this important piece of legislation for our agricultural community.”
The task force must comprise farmers and ranchers, internet service providers, broadband mapping experts, and representatives from the satellite industry, electric cooperatives, precision agriculture equipment manufacturers, and local and state government representatives, according to the legislation.
The duties of the task force include:
Identifying and measuring gaps in broadband coverage on agricultural land;
Developing policy recommendations to promote the rapid, expanded deployment of broadband Internet access service on agricultural land, with a goal of achieving reliable service on 95 percent of agricultural land by 2025;
Recommending steps the FCC should take to obtain reliable and standardized measurements of broadband Internet access service availability as may be necessary to target funding support to unserved agricultural land in need of broadband Internet access service; and
Recommending steps the FCC should consider to ensure that the expertise of USDA and available farm data are reflected in developing future programs of the commission to deploy broadband Internet access service and to direct available funding to unserved agricultural land where needed.