LINCOLN, NEB. – Eliminating the digital divide between rural and urban America and growing international markets for Nebraska agricultural products was the focus of a recent visit to Washington, D.C. by members of Nebraska Farm Bureau’s Leadership Academy. The Leadership Academy is a yearlong leadership training program to help individuals with personal growth and development, public speaking skills, and training on how to advocate for Nebraska’s farm and ranch families.

“It’s important participants in this program have a first-hand experience in how government works and the role they can play in helping make sure the issues important to their farms and ranches are presented to their elected leaders,” said Jordan Dux, Nebraska Farm Bureau’s director of national affairs, who facilitated the Leadership Academy visit.

Today, nearly one third of rural Americans don’t have access to broadband internet service in their homes as compared to four percent of urban Americans who lack broadband access.

“Digital connection is critical to agriculture and to farmers and ranchers looking to use new technologies to improve the way they manage their operations. Leadership Academy members specifically encouraged Nebraska’s Congressional Delegation to support and co-sponsor legislation that would improve the accuracy of broadband coverage maps to help better direct federal funds for broadband expansion to areas in greatest need,” said Dux.

Growing markets for Nebraska agricultural goods was also on the list of issues touched on by Leadership Academy members. The group specifically shared the importance of Congress passing legislation to enact the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), as well as offering support for securing a bi-lateral trade deal with Japan, and the desire for a meaningful trade deal to be reached with China.

“Members of the Academy did a great job pointing out that by passing USMCA, Congress would help send a message to the rest of the world that the U.S. is open for business and that the U.S. is prepared to negotiate and pass new trade deals that are critical to Nebraska agriculture,” said Dux.

Leadership Academy members participating in the trip to Washington, D.C. included:

Jolene Dunbar – Taylor, Neb. (Loup County Farm Bureau)
Samantha Dyer – Crawford, Neb. (Dawes County Farm Bureau)
Matthew Erickson – Johnson, Neb. (Johnson County Farm Bureau)
Tyrell Fickenscher – Axtell, Neb. (Kearney/Franklin County Farm Bureau)
Kathie Martindale – Brewster, Neb. (Blaine County Farm Bureau)
Krista Podany – Verdigre, Neb. (Knox County Farm Bureau)
Cherie Priest – Ainsworth, Neb. (Brown County Farm Bureau)
Adam Rathman – Wood River, Neb. (Hall County Farm Bureau)
Owen Seamann – Spalding, Neb. (Wheeler County Farm Bureau)
Brenda Jean Wendt – Bristow, Neb. (Boyd County Farm Bureau)

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 61,000 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.