Groups study impact of broadband on rural prosperity
Several national associations, nonprofits and government agencies joined forces throughout 2018 to examine the impact of broadband on life in rural America.
The Farm Foundation, a nonpartisan agricultural policy institute, launched a proj- ect entitled “What’s on the Horizon for E-Connectivity in Rural America.” As part of this project, the group organized a series of E-Connectivity Listening Sessions in collaboration with CoBank, NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“We want to identify the challenges rural communities now face in providing quality broadband services, as well as the innovative options being used to address those challenges,” said Constance Cullman, Farm Foundation president and mod- erator of the listening sessions.
One of the sessions was in Birmingham, Alabama, in August. Among the panel- ists was Fred Johnson, executive vice president and general manager of Farmers Telecommunications Cooperative in Rainsville, Alabama. Johnson also serves on the board of directors for NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association.
Johnson applauded the effort to bring stakeholders together to share the accomplishments of small, rural broadband providers. “Closing the digital divide is a goal we all share, and creating partnerships to reinvest in our networks is an important component of achieving that goal,” he said.
Also speaking at the Birmingham session was Jannine Miller, USDA’s senior advisor for rural infrastructure. She discussed the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity that was formed in 2017. The task force identified over 100 recommendations for the federal government to consider in order to help improve life in rural America. The recommendations centered around five areas, with e-connectivity being central to all components (see illustration below).
More information about the listening sessions — including videos of the events — can be found at www.farmfoundation.org.
Access to Capital
Innovation & Technology
Quality of Life