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Chairman Scott Opening Statement at Hearing on Rural Broadband

WASHINGTON- House Agriculture Committee Chairman David Scott delivered the following statement at today's Full Committee hearing titled "Rural Broadband - Examining Internet Connectivity Needs and Opportunities in Rural America":


[As prepared for delivery]


Good Morning, we are here today to discuss the critical issue of Rural Broadband and to hear from our witnesses about their experiences constructing and maintaining broadband networks in Rural America. As always, I’d like to thank my Ranking Member for his bipartisan cooperation and willingness to work with me on this issue. I think we have a fantastic opportunity to seize this moment and take meaningful action to close the digital divide.

Rural broadband is critical for the growth and development of our rural communities. It’s essential we act to finally close the digital divide that has kept so many of our rural communities from reaching their full potential. As we have seen laid bare throughout this pandemic, we cannot delay in our efforts.

The COVID-19 pandemic further highlights the scarcity of health care resources in rural America. Access to quality high-speed broadband can not only provide rural residents with access to car, but it also allows for health care facilities to establish their operations in rural areas, bringing quality jobs and increasing the overall health and development of the community.

Our nation’s students and businesses also experienced many changes during the pandemic, with many becoming fully remote at some point in 2020. Students without access to broadband, or the internet connected devices remote work relies on, were severely disadvantaged in their ability to learn and succeed. Many businesses also relied on their broadband connection to continue operating and stay afloat during the pandemic.

Broadband also provides opportunities to help us reach our climate change goals. The benefits of Precision Agriculture extend far beyond the farm, but to use these technologies Farmers must have access to broadband. Precision Agriculture provides farmers with information that allows for more accurate planting, pest and nutrient management, and harvesting and also opportunities to identify new markets to sell their crops.

I am excited to hear from the panel of witnesses that are before us today. Their experiences with building, expanding, and maintaining broadband networks in rural areas will help us identify how we can improve current broadband programs and target our investments to ensure communities have access to the resources they need to establish quality broadband services. I look forward to their important testimony.

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