Association Of Equipment Manufacturers Ag Sector Board Chair Testifies Before U.S. House Ag Committee

Published online: Jun 27, 2023 Articles
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Rural broadband connectivity and precision agriculture go hand in hand, and that is the message that Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) Ag Sector Board Chair Bill Hurley delivered during the U.S. House Agriculture Committee’s hearing on closing the digital divide in rural America.

AEM was invited to appear before the House Ag Committee as members of the committee continue to work on the 2023 farm bill that will establish the nation’s agriculture policies for the next five years.   

“A multifaceted strategy including fiber optic, low earth orbit (LEO) satellites, and 5G will continue to close the rural connectivity gap, enabling farmers and ranchers to leverage important technologies and management strategies that will help them produce more with less,” said Hurley. “For precision agriculture technologies to reach their full potential, we need technology-neutral deployment of broadband dollars. It is imperative that all aspects of rural America are connected, from the hospital to the school and from the farmhouse to the field.” 

Click here to read Hurley’s prepared written testimony. 

Click here to watch Hurley’s full testimony in front of the Committee. 

In his testimony, Hurley also highlighted three bipartisan pieces of legislation introduced in the 118th Congress that AEM would like to see included in the 2023 farm bill:  

  • The Precision Agriculture Loan Program Act establishes the first ever federal Precision Agriculture Loan program within USDA’s Farm Service Agency. The program would offer interest rates lower than 2 percent, loan terms from 3 to 12 years in length, and an aggregate limit of $500,000 (H.R. 1495/S. 719).
  • The PRECISE Act amends the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act to include eligibility for precision agriculture within USDA’s existing Conservation Loan and Guaranteed Loan Programs, expanding programs to rural entities to include loans for precision agriculture and rural broadband connectivity (H.R. 1459/S. 720).
  • The Promoting Precision Agriculture Act directs the USDA and the National Institute of Standards and Technology to work together with equipment manufacturers to create standards around interoperability (H.R. 1697/S.734). 

As the Farm Bill continues to take shape, AEM will continue to beat the drum on precision agriculture and ensure that America’s 2.3 million equipment manufacturers have a strong voice in the national conversation about the future of rural America.

The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) includes a $65 billion investment in broadband, and it is imperative that rural communities stay engaged in the process and understand that we must accelerate broadband deployment for precision agriculture to become a reality on farms across the country. AEM will continue to advocate for policies that help farmers and ranchers adopt these cutting-edge technologies that will lead to a transformative shift in agriculture practices and help producers do more with less.