Americans seemingly do everything online. In today's global economy a high-speed Internet connection is a necessity, especially for the men and women who drive our agricultural communities and work to put food on America's table. Many of us take our broadband access for granted while millions of Americans in rural areas find themselves underserved, or without high-speed access altogether.
Fortunately, the Federal Communications Commission has been rolling out Connect America Fund (CAF) dollars and working with rural telecommunications companies to reduce the number of unserved Americans. CAF is designed to match federal financial support to unserved areas with eligible broadband providers. Through this funding, the FCC is helping to continue to close the connection gap, bringing broadband to rural communities. While these improvements certainly benefit commerce, what should not be lost is their significant and positive impact on farmers, ranchers and growers who need these tools to compete in a globalized economy.
The Connect America Fund has already been a huge success, but there's still much work to be done. “Connected” Americans everywhere should encourage the FCC to remain committed to the goals of the Connect America Fund and to continue with plans to help fund broadband in agricultural communities — to benefit of everyone.
Tammy Gray-Steele, Oklahoma City
Gray-Steele is executive director of National Women in Agriculture Association.