Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation President Mike McCormick testified Wednesday before the United States’ Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation focusing on the challenges and solutions to reliable and accessible broadband service.
Over the last year, MFBF has helped educate decision makers from Washington D.C. to the Capitol building in Jackson on the need to fill in the gaps in broadband coverage across Mississippi. These gaps in broadband coverage specifically effect how farmers and ranchers can make a living.
“Broadband is no longer a luxury, it is a necessity,” McCormick said. “Farmers and ranchers depend on broadband just as they do highways, railways and waterways to ship food, fuel and fiber across the country and around the world.”
Today, technology allows farmers to be more efficient and environmentally friendly. Farm machinery is more precise when it comes to planting, water use, and the amount of pesticides distributed, but it depends on broadband connectivity.
McCormick also highlighted the discrepancies between broadband access data collected by the Federal Communication Commission and third party groups like Microsoft and the American Farm Bureau Federation.
“By some measurements, there is as much as a 56 percent difference,” McCormick said. “This difference represents hundreds of thousands of residents across Mississippi without reliable broadband that will help them work, communicate, or even allow their children to do homework from their kitchen table.”
During the 2019 Mississippi Legislative session, lawmakers passed a bill allowing rural electrical cooperatives to provide broadband service if they so choose. Many of the cooperatives are studying the issue to determine the financial viability of providing the service.