The Federal Communications Commission's Precision Agriculture Connectivity Task Force has been rechartered for a second term, and its members are set to meet on Jan. 13, 2022.
The task force's objectives are to consult with the U.S. secretary of agriculture and collaborate with public and private stakeholders about broadband Internet access on agricultural land and policies that will promote rapid, expanded access to broadband on 95% of U.S. agricultural land by 2025. Congress directed the FCC to establish the Precision Ag Connectivity Task Force in the 2018 Farm Bill, and members started meeting in 2019. The recharter starts another 2-year term for the task force — with approximately 3 meetings per year.
Industry members of the rechartered task force include:
- Teddy Bekele, Land O’Lakes senior vice president and chief technology officer (Chair)
- Michael Adelaine, South Dakota State University CIO and special advisor to the president (Vice chair)
- Dale Artho, commissioner in Deaf Smith County, TX
- Loranne Ausley, Florida State Senator
- Sreekala Bajwa, vice president, dean and director of Montana State University College of Agriculture & Montana Agricultural Experiment Station
- Andy Bater, farmer with Fifth Estate Growers LLC
- Julie Bushell, president of Paige Wireless, Irrigation Association
- Anthony Dillard, tribal councilman with the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma
- Michael Gomes, vice president of strategic business development at Topcon Agriculture
- Heather Hampton+Knodle, vice president and secretary of Knodle Ltd. Farms
- Robert Hance, president and CEO of Midwest Energy & Communications
- Ryan Krogh, manager with production system program management at John Deere
- Jennifer Manner, senior vice president of regulatory affairs at Hughes Network Systems, LLC
- Joy Sterling, chief executive officer of Iron Horse Vineyards
- Jimmy Todd, chief executive officer and general manager at Nex-Tech
- Christopher McLean, acting administrator for Rural Utilities Service at the USDA, will serve as an ex-officio, nonvoting member of the Task Force.
According to the FCC's chairwoman, the following four working groups will assist the task force in carrying out its work: (1) Mapping and Analyzing Connectivity on Agricultural Lands; (2) Examining Current and Future Connectivity Demand for Precision Agriculture; (3) Encouraging Adoption of Precision Agriculture and Availability of High-Quality Jobs on Connected Farms; (4) Accelerating Broadband Deployment on Unserved Agricultural Lands. The FCC committed to providing at least $1 billion for "technologically innovative" 5G networks that facilitate precision agriculture as part of its 5G Fund for Rural America established in 2020.
The task force's first meeting is virtual and scheduled for 10 a.m. Eastern on Jan. 13. At the meeting, members will introduce themselves, describe the focus of each working group, review policies relevant to task force duties and begin discussing strategies to advance broadband deployment on agricultural land and promote precision agriculture. Members of the public can watch a live feed at www.fcc.gov/live.
The public may submit comments to the task force in the FCC’s Electronic Comment Filing System at www.fcc.gov/ecfs. Comments to the task force should be filed in GN Docket No. 19-329.