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ICYMI: Industry Leaders Share Support of Broadband for Rural America Act

Washington, DC—Recently, the House Agriculture Committee introduced the Broadband for Rural America Act, a blueprint for a better-connected America. The bill has garnered widespread support from Members of Congress as well as industry leaders.

Zippy Duvall, President of American Farm Bureau Federation

We must continue to expand access to broadband in rural America until we have fully bridged the digital divide. Broadband is critical to modern, sustainable agriculture and the quality of life for rural Americans. Farm Bureau appreciates the Agriculture Committee’s commitment to strengthening our rural communities and thanks Ranking Member Thompson for introducing the Broadband for Rural America Act which would provide greater investment in USDA rural broadband programs as well as foster greater coordination among federal broadband deployment efforts.”

Shirley Bloomfield, CEO of NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association

“House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Glenn Thompson’s Broadband for Rural America Act takes lessons learned from the Rural Utilities Service’s successful ReConnect pilot program in establishing a permanent broadband loan and grant program. We appreciate the commitment to connecting rural America that this substantial authorization represents. RUS has a long track record of providing essential capital that then works in concert with ongoing support from the FCC’s Universal Service Fund to deploy and sustain the most advanced networks available, and the Broadband for Rural America Act solidifies RUS’s important financing role. We look forward to working with Congressman Thompson and Congress to ensure all of rural America gets and stays connected to broadband through proven future-proof technology.”

Jim Matheson, CEO of National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA)

“Efforts to bridge the digital divide began nearly 25 years ago, yet millions of rural Americans remain sidelined and disconnected simply because of their zip code. In 2021, that’s unacceptable. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to spotlight the need for high-performing broadband access in so many aspects of rural communities and hundreds of electric cooperatives are responding. They are conducting feasibility studies on building broadband for their communities, on top of the nearly 200 electric co-ops already providing broadband service in their local communities.

“This legislation builds on the 2018 Farm Bill and recognizes the continued role of USDA’s rural broadband programs in helping to get robust, reliable broadband to rural American families and businesses. Sustained investment in USDA broadband programs, alongside other federal and state broadband programs, is necessary to expand broadband access across rural America. We commend the cosponsors of the bill for their focus on solving this problem and look forward to working with them and other stakeholders to make broadband access possible throughout the nation."

Tom Kuhn, President of Edison Electric Institute (EEI)

“EEI and our member companies support the Broadband for Rural America Act, and we remain focused on expanding affordable and reliable broadband access for all Americans. Over the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that there is a significant digital divide in many communities across the country, particularly in underserved and unserved areas. EEI member companies are committed to investing in the middle-mile infrastructure that will continue to incorporate the telecommunications equipment and the fiber technology needed to support communications and provide real-time monitoring and controls for generation and transmission operations. Through these investments, and by partnering with telecommunications companies and last-mile internet providers, we can help to bridge the digital gap for customers and communities."

Geoff Freeman, President & CEO of Consumer Brands Association

"Rural America is a critical link in the supply chain—connecting farmers and manufacturers to consumers across the nation—and expanding broadband access is crucial to ensuring Americans have access to products they use every day. As today’s consumers shop online more than ever, even for groceries, the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry is innovating to meet their needs by disclosing product information online and working with retailers to provide enhanced shopping options. This legislation ensures that as the CPG industry implements more modern technology to better serve consumers nationwide, and continues to deliver essential products throughout the country, no part of America will be left behind.”

Tom Halverson, President & CEO of CoBank

“CoBank applauds the efforts of Ranking Member Thompson and Agriculture Committee Republicans on the introduction of the Broadband for Rural America Act. Rural broadband is vital to the success of rural America and the expertise at USDA is required to ensure that all Americans are connected regardless of their zip code. We are glad to support this effort and will continue to advocate for support of robust investment in infrastructure programs that support all rural Americans.”

Jim Mulhern, President & CEO of National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF)

“The internet plays a significant role across countless aspects of U.S. daily life, from business interactions to health care to education to emergency services. Looking forward, decisions being made now are designing a future that revolves around and requires access to high-speed internet. We must ensure that all Americans, regardless of where they live, have access to this rapidly developing future. This includes supporting broadband infrastructure projects and USDA programs and efforts tailored to expanding broadband access in rural areas. NMPF thanks Rep. Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson for his Broadband for Rural America Act, which better funds and streamlines broadband development programs in a way that supports USDA’s efforts to provide long-term solutions to the connectivity challenges facing rural communities. We look forward to working with all members of the Agriculture Committee to close the digital divide and ensure all of America has access to the internet essential for a bright and safe future, urban and rural areas alike.”