LINCOLN, NEB. – Agriculture and rural Nebraska will not reach its full potential until Nebraskans from every corner of the state have access to high-speed, high-quality broadband service. That was the message from Nebraska Farm Bureau President Mark McHargue to members of the Legislature’s Transportation and Telecommunications Committee in testimony supporting LB 388. The bill was introduced by Sen. Curt Friesen of Henderson at the request of Gov. Pete Ricketts. The proposal calls on the legislature to invest $40 million over the next two years to increase high end broadband access for individuals in unserved and underserved areas of the state.
“Much of the technology allowing farmers and ranchers to increase efficiencies and boost environmental benefits depends on quality e-connectivity. Our ability to use precision technology is what will allow us to move closer to farming and managing our land by the inch, rather than by the acre or field. That’s one of the many reasons improving broadband access is a Nebraska Farm Bureau priority,” said McHargue. “Like electricity, broadband access has become an infrastructure necessity. Rural Nebraska can’t afford to be left behind as it impacts everything from growing main street businesses and expanding tele-health opportunities, to simply allowing children to get online to do their homework.”
According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), 39 percent of Americans in rural areas lack access to broadband service defined by the FCC as 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload speeds.
In addition to LB 388, McHargue offered support for several other bills geared to boosting or improving broadband in Nebraska.
“My message today is simple,” McHargue told the committee. “I urge you to find a way to get these bills across the finish line. The need is urgent. Our members support using all the tools in the toolbox to bring access to every community in our state.”
The Nebraska Farm Bureau is a grassroots, state-wide organization dedicated to supporting farm and ranch families and working for the benefit of all Nebraskans through a wide variety of educational, service, and advocacy efforts. More than 58,000 families across Nebraska are Farm Bureau members, working together to achieve rural and urban prosperity as agriculture is a key fuel to Nebraska’s economy. For more information about Nebraska Farm Bureau and agriculture, visit www.nefb.org.