Senate Passes Bipartisan Bill Hoeven Cosponsored to Improve Broadband Availability for Precision Agriculture

Legislation Builds on Hoeven’s Efforts as Ag Appropriations Chairman to Support Investment in Rural Broadband Infrastructure

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee and a member of Senate Agriculture Committee, today announced that the Senate has passed bipartisan legislation he cosponsored to improve broadband availability for precision agriculture. 

“Precision agriculture reduces input cost and improves yields,” said Hoeven. “Farmers and ranchers need dependable access to broadband in order to take full advantage of the wide range of these agriculture technology products. Our legislation will help identify gaps in coverage and ensure we enact solutions to address problem areas.”

The Precision Agriculture Connectivity Act (S. 2343) requires the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to establish a task force comprised of public and private sector members to accomplish the following:

  • Identify service gaps for broadband internet access on agricultural land;
  • Create a comprehensive guide of programs and resources working to expand coverage;
  • Develop and recommend policies and programs to address the gaps and achieve 95 percent coverage of croplands and ranchlands by 2025.

The bill is sponsored by Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and, in addition to Hoeven, is cosponsored by the following senators: Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) and Angus King (I-Maine).

The legislation is also supported by the Agricultural Broadband Coalition whose members include AGCO, Agricultural Retailers Association, American Farm Bureau Federation, American Soybean Association, Association of Equipment Manufacturers, CNH Industrial, CoBank, John Deere, Lindsay Corporation, National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, National Corn Growers, Power and Communication Contractors Association and Trimble.

Additionally, the legislation builds on Hoeven’s efforts as chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee, through which he helped secure $600 million in Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 and $425 million in FY2019 to spur investment in broadband for rural and hard-to-serve areas.