Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-NY-21) introduced the Precision Farming Act of 2016 -- legislation to increase access to broadband connectivity for our rural farmers.

“The internet has the power to revolutionize the agriculture sector,” said Congresswoman Stefanik. “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 introduced  the Precision Farming Act of 2016. 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.”

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.

What They’re Saying:

“This bill aims to eliminate the digital divide that impacts the family farm,” said Phil Wagschal, President of Slic Network Solutions. “Fast, cost efficient fiber-based Internet is meant to be used not only by people but also by Internet-connected devices that allows for precision farming. As the region’s fastest provider, our fiber infrastructure was designed to support and connect all types of devices and services. It’s those devices and services that will allow the region’s agricultural based families to stay competitive, and to be able to continue to grow their businesses. The bill also means the more Internet connected the North Country’s farm based families are, the more their children will have access to online educational information. Faster Internet also preserves the family farm. It brings enterprise scale opportunities and approaches to the individual farm. They can now be competitive, and more modern, allowing their farms to make more money, have access to the latest technology and science available, to raise and grow more of what they can take to market, all in a far more efficient manner.”