Subcommittee Reviews Rural Broadband Programs

May 1, 2007

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Specialty Crops, Rural Development, and Foreign Agriculture held a hearing to review rural broadband programs operated by the United States Department of AgricultureÆs Rural Utilities Service. Congressman Mike McIntyre of North Carolina is Chairman of the Subcommittee.

"Access to the high speed broadband is critical for economic development, community growth and individual advancement," said Chairman McIntyre. "For many Rural Americans, affordability and accessibility to the Internet is out of reach.  As we work on the next Farm Bill, it is important that we open up the information superhighway for all to travel on."

 "Deployment of high speed internet service is one of the most important factors for the economic development and future success of our rural communities," said Ranking Republican Member Marilyn N. Musgrave of Colorado.  "For instance, telework has the potential to slow and possible reverse the population exodus from our rural areas.  Distance learning provides new opportunities for rural schools and community colleges, and telemedicine practices offer the ability for the rural health care providers to deliver state-of-the-art health care."

 The 2002 Farm Bill provided funding for rural broadband programs to improve access to broadband telecommunications services. The Specialty Crops, Rural Development, and Foreign Agriculture Subcommittee is one of six House Agriculture subcommittees involved in reauthorization of the Farm Bill, including the billÆs rural development title, Title VI.

 Witness testimony is available on the Committee website. A full transcript of the hearing will be posted on the Committee website in 4-6 weeks.


Panel I

Administrator James Andrew, Rural Utilities Service, United States Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C.

Accompanied by: Ms. Jacqueline Ponti, Assistant Administrator for Telecommunications Program, United States Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C.

Panel II

 Dr. Jack Geller, President, Center for Rural Policy and Development, Saint Peter, Minnesota

 Mr. Tom Simmons, Senior Vice President of Public Policy, Midcontinent Communications, Sioux Falls, South Dakota on behalf of National Cable and Telecommunications Association, Washington, D.C.

 Mr. Walter B. McCormick, Jr., President and Chief Executive Officer, United States Telecom Association, Washington, D.C.

 Mr. Denny Law, Eastern Regional Manager for Golden West Telecommunications Cooperative, Wall, South Dakota on behalf of National Telecommunications Cooperative Association

 Mr. Kevin Felty, General Manager, Plains Cooperative Telephone and President, Colorado Telecommunications Association, Joes, Colorado