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The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Could Offer New Information to SDFRs in Rural America

goal of ensuring that all Americans have access to affordable, reliable, high-speed internet. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law plans to invest $65 billion to help with this effort, with funding falling into seven major program areas. These areas include: (1) the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Program ($42.45 billion), (2) the Affordable Connectivity Program ($14.2 billion); (3) Digital Equity Planning, Capacity and Competitive Grants ($2.75 billion); (4) the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program ($2 billion), (5) Rural Broadband Programs at the Department of Agriculture ($2 billion); (6) the Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure Program ($1 billion); and (7) Private Activity Bonds ($600 million).

Access to affordable, reliable, high-speed internet is a need expressed by socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers (SDFR) in a research study conducted by Tougaloo College under the guidance of the SDFR Policy Research Center (Policy Center) at Alcorn State University.  The research study sought to identify factors that hindered SDFR’s access to technology and the use of technology in the poverty-stricken counties located in Mississippi. After surveying respondents in 46 of the 82 counties in Mississippi, the study found that the internet was the most frequently referenced source for information about new technology.

According to USDA’s report, “Farm Computer Usage and Ownership”, 25% of farms in the United States have no access to the internet. As agricultural technology continues to change, become smarter and, integrate within agriculture tools that farmers utilize daily, they will likely require use of the internet and data to expand their knowledge of tools that may create greater farm productivity.  With the expansion of broadband access to communities like those of the farmers surveyed, farmers will be able to learn more about agricultural technology.

Love, April S. . “The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Could Offer New Information to SDFRs in Rural America“. Southern Ag Today 2(7.5). February 11, 2022. Permalink

Attorney and Policy Analyst
Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers Policy Research Center
Alcorn State University

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