Hoeven Outlines Efforts to Advance Precision Agriculture Technology, Grand Farm

Senator Secured Rural & Agriculture Innovation Funding in Senate Appropriations Bills, Supporting Development of Rural Broadband & State’s Tech Sector

FARGO, N.D. – At Emerging Prairie’s Autonomous Focus Group today, Senator John Hoeven outlined ongoing efforts to advance North Dakota’s role as a hub for precision agriculture technologies. This includes his work to secure support for Grand Farm, a project led by Emerging Prairie to develop and demonstrate the next generation of precision agriculture, which will help to address challenges faced by farmers here at home and globally, improving efficiency, lowering operating costs and increasing yields. To this end, the senator has worked as chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee to include the following measures in the Fiscal Year 2020 funding legislation recently passed by the Senate:

  • $5 million for the Rural Innovation Stronger Economy (RISE) Grant Program
    • The program supports innovation clusters in rural regions, providing grants between $500,000 and $2 million over four years.
    • Hoeven included report language in the legislation that would prioritize projects like Grand Farm. The senator’s measure supports entities in regions with established agriculture and technology sectors that are focused on the development of precision and autonomous agriculture technologies.
  • $3 million for the Agriculture Innovation Demonstration Center (AIC) Program
    • The program supports innovation centers that seek to provide technical and business development assistance, including engineering services and advisory services, to agriculture producers.

“Precision agriculture offers a real opportunity for farmers and ranchers to improve efficiency and return on investment, and we are developing the future of this technology right here in North Dakota,” Hoeven said. “That’s what Grand Farm is all about – ensuring our agriculture producers remain on the cutting-edge and giving them a leg up as they compete in the global marketplace. We’ve worked to ensure Emerging Prairie is in a strong position to make use of federal funds for the project. At the same time, we continue developing the infrastructure we need, like rural broadband, and growing our technology sector to keep these innovations moving forward.”   

In addition, Hoeven is supporting the deployment of rural broadband and the state’s growing technology sector to further boost the implementation of precision agriculture technology.

Rural Broadband

To properly utilize the data from autonomous equipment on farms and ranches, producers need access to robust telecommunications infrastructure like broadband. To this end, Hoeven:  

  • Passed the Precision Agriculture Connectivity Act, bipartisan legislation to help ensure adequate broadband connectivity in rural areas on farm and ranchland to support the adoption of precision agriculture. The legislation was signed into law as part of the Farm Bill last year. 
    • Earlier this month, Hoeven announced that Seth Arndorfer, CEO of the Dakota Carrier Network, was appointed as a member of the task force created under this legislation.
  • Secured 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 quality broadband service.
  • 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.

Tech Entrepreneurship

Hoeven has worked since his time as governor to establish North Dakota as a hub of tech entrepreneurship and helped promote new opportunities for innovation and investment in the state’s traditional industries, like agriculture and energy, as well as in newer technology sectors. As part of his continued efforts, Hoeven is advancing:

  • The Support Our Start-Ups Act, bipartisan legislation he introduced with Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) to enable entrepreneurs to deduct more of the start-up costs for their business and invest more into their operations sooner.
  • The Portable Benefits for Independent Workers Pilot Program Act, bipartisan legislation he helped introduce that would make portable benefits more accessible for entrepreneurs and provide greater certainty for them and their families. 
  • Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Hoeven helped secured $1.2 billion for Student Support and Academic Enrichment grants as well as dedicated STEM funding within the Education Innovation and Research program in FY2019.
  • Legislation to promote college affordability, including the Employer Participation in Repayment Act and the Jumpstart Our Businesses by Supporting Students (JOBS) Act, both of which he cosponsored.