Washington, DC – Today, Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-NY-21) introduced the Precision Farming Act of 2017 -- legislation to increase access to broadband connectivity for our rural farmers.

“Broadband access is critical to competing in a 21st century economy in almost every sector,” said Congresswoman Stefanik. “In my visits at farms across the North Country, farmers have discussed with me how the internet has the power to revolutionize the agriculture sector. For instance, a dairy farmer from Potsdam who spoke with my office uses broadband to automate feeding plans for his cows.

“To support our North Country farmers, I have re-introduced the Precision Farming Act. This legislation will encourage the construction of rural broadband connections to farms by allowing providers to receive reimbursements for the costs related to construction. Furthermore, this legislation would put our nation’s farmers first, by prioritizing their loan applications for additional construction. 

“To compete in a 21st Century economy, our farmers must have access to broadband technology and I urge my colleagues to support this important agriculture legislation.”

“Access to broadband remains a priority for New York’s famers,” said David Fisher, New York Farm Bureau President. “According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, nearly a quarter of all farmers in New York still lack internet service which can be a detriment to their businesses. Farms need to be able to quickly exchange data, access information, and use the latest technology available to remain competitive. New York Farm Bureau appreciates Rep. Stefanik’s continued push to expand broadband in our rural communities and to recognize the importance of agriculture in her district.”

Precision farming is the practice of utilizing the internet to increase efficiency through data analysis and automation. This practice can encompass every aspect of the agricultural production chain from supply providers, fertilizer applicators, veterinarians and farmers all the way to consumers. These innovative practices are changing the way our nation’s farms are producing our food. Unfortunately, many rural farmers are unable to take advantage of these exciting technologies due to limited broadband infrastructure in their communities.

This legislation would take a two pronged approach to addressing rural agricultural broadband challenges by making installation of a broadband line more affordable. Under this legislation, broadband providers would be eligible for a one-time $15,000 reimbursement for each line installed for a qualifying precision farming operation. Farmers wishing to apply for loans to cover additional installation costs would find their applications prioritized under the Rural Electrification Act.

Click here for text of this legislation.

Just last week, Congresswoman Stefanik and her colleagues also introduced the Broadband Connections for Rural Opportunities Program Act, also known as the B-CROP Act.