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Broadband access a priority for Farm Bureau

Ohio Farm Bureau is continuing to work with state leaders on having broadband accessible for all Ohioans across the state. Entire Ohio communities continue to have no broadband connectivity or limited reliability, putting them at an economic disadvantage, said Jenna Beadle, OFBF director of state policy.

“The biggest thing we hear from our members about not having broadband is the economic impact for those in the workplace and how even students are affected because they increasingly have to do their homework online and can’t always run over to McDonald’s or their local library for Wi-Fi access,” she said.

Last year the state legislature failed to pass a bill establishing a residential broadband expansion program through the Ohio Department of Development Services. Ohio Farm Bureau has been meeting with state leaders to reintroduce the bill, which would provide grant money to help offset the high infrastructure cost for companies putting broadband into areas with few customers.

The 2018 Farm Bill addressed broadband, requiring the Trump administration to create a 20-agency task force to determine ways federal agencies can support expanded broadband access. The task force recently made recommendations for streamlining the permitting process, using federal assets to lower the cost for projects and using data from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to create more accurate maps to show where broadband is still limited or lacking. The 2018 Farm Bill also increased USDA’s authority to create grants and loans for middle-mile projects.

Stat

About 39 percent of rural Americans don’t have access to broadband, compared with just 4 percent of urban Americans. Source: Federal Communications Commission

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