Hoeven: Grand Farm Represents Intersection of Ag & Tech, Helping Advance Future of Precision Agriculture

Ag Secretary Perdue Sees Firsthand North Dakota’s Work to Advance Precision Agriculture

FARGO, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee and a member of the Agriculture Committee, today marked the unveiling of Grand Farm, a project led by Emerging Prairie to develop and demonstrate the next generation of precision agriculture. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, who Hoeven brought to North Dakota to meet with producers about the challenges in farm country, was able to see North Dakota’s work to advance precision agriculture. Hoeven highlighted the region’s growing technology sector, which serves as the third wave in the state’s economic growth, and its potential to benefit farmers and ranchers.

“Grand Farm is an ambitious effort to streamline the many technologies that farmers rely on, helping to reduce their workload and input costs and improving the return on their investments,” said Hoeven. “This is one of the many ways we are seeing the intersection of our state’s largest industry, agriculture, with our work to grow North Dakota’s tech sector. It’s important that we have Secretary Perdue here to learn about these efforts firsthand, because USDA could be a tremendous partner in making Grand Farm a reality. We are going to continue working to secure that federal support, while also advancing the many pieces needed to bolster the development of precision agriculture. That includes things like fostering entrepreneurship, developing UAS and similar technologies and expanding access to broadband in rural areas.”

Tech Entrepreneurship

Hoeven has worked since his time as governor to establish North Dakota as a hub of tech entrepreneurship. Through initiatives like the Centers of Excellence Program and his annual State of Technology Conference, the senator has helped promote new opportunities for innovation and investment both in the state’s traditional industries, like agriculture and energy, as well as in newer sectors, including mobile technology, biotech and unmanned aerial systems (UAS).

As part of his continued efforts, Hoeven recently helped reintroduce the Portable Benefits for Independent Workers Pilot Program Act. This bipartisan legislation would make portable benefits more accessible for entrepreneurs and provide greater certainty for them and their families. The senator also joined the Entrepreneurship Caucus, which works to address the issues facing the nation’s entrepreneurs and small businesses, bolster the creation of startups and increase the capital investment flowing into the U.S.

UAS & Precision Agriculture 

A significant focus of Hoeven’s work is supporting the growth of the UAS industry, including through the establishment of the Northern Plains UAS Test Site and Grand Sky. These initiatives have set the state apart as a leader in unmanned aircraft research, development, testing and training. In fact, Hoeven hosted officials from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in Grand Forks this week to highlight the region’s unique UAS ecosystem as well as the progress being made under the FAA’s partnerships with the state. As part of these events, Hoeven helped announce the Red River Valley’s new UAS Super Corridor. 

The corridor will advance the integration of UAS into the national airspace and help in the development of a broad range of applications for unmanned aircraft, including in agriculture, which aligns with the goals of Grand Farm. In order to further support this convergence of technology and agriculture, Hoeven secured $3 million for UAS Precision Agriculture research under the Agriculture Research Service (ARS) in Fiscal Year 2019 and will work to maintain this funding in future appropriations bills.

Rural Broadband

To properly utilize the data from UAS on farms and ranches, producers need access to robust telecommunications infrastructure like broadband. To this end, Hoeven cosponsored the Precision Agriculture Connectivity Act, which was signed into law as part of the Farm Bill last year. This bipartisan legislation will help ensure there is adequate broadband connectivity in rural areas to support the adoption of precision agriculture, which will reduce costs and improve yields.

Further, Hoeven worked as chairman of the Agriculture Appropriations Committee helped secure a total of $1.1 billion across fiscal years 2018 and 2019 for the ReConnect Program, a rural broadband loan and grant pilot program targeted to areas that currently lack access to broadband service. The senator also recently reintroduced his bipartisan Move America Act, which would provide tax credits and tax-exempt bonds to help grow and repair the country’s infrastructure, including rural broadband.