Reach Out to Your Local Family Farmer

Broadband is critical to the family farm. The family farm is significant as, collectively, they comprise more than 98% of the nation’s 2 million farms, according to Emily Buckman, Director of Government Affairs for the American Farm Bureau Federation. The integration of technology and connectivity makes the family farm an important customer and ally in rural Broadband Service Providers (BSP) efforts to serve rural America.  

Family farms are often passed down through generations. Buckhead, part of a fourth-generation farming family, highlighted the evolving landscape of farming. The technological shift in farming is significant, with new tools emerging regularly, aiding in efficiency and profitability. However, this shift also brings challenges, especially in adopting these technologies due to costs and the need for connectivity.

The role of broadband in rural areas is critical, with Buckman emphasizing the need for collaboration between farm families, broadband providers, and organizations like the American Farm Bureau, which is present in 2,800 counties across the country. The Bureau recommends reaching out to local farm families and state farm bureaus to understand their needs and facilitate the adoption of new technologies.

Reach Out

Buckman mentions the importance of youth and community organizations, such as the Future Farmers of America and the American Farm Bureau’s Young Farmer and Rancher program, which focuses on farmers aged 18 to 35. These organizations provide a platform for younger generations to engage with and adapt to the evolving agricultural landscape.

The challenges faced by modern farmers include access to necessary broadband and the affordability of new technologies, particularly precision agriculture technologies, which can be cost-prohibitive. The transition to more technologically advanced farming means that traditional repair and maintenance skills are no longer sufficient, as modern equipment often requires computer-based troubleshooting.

At NTCA’s SRC Live, where the above interview was filmed, Buckman encourages BSPs to collaborate with their local farming communities and associated organizations to understand the challenges and opportunities of new technology and connectivity options. Continuing these close relationships will help both the BSP evolve its network and services, as well as help the family farm continue to thrive. 

Interview Highlights

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