Farmers Push for Rural Investment

Citing their importance to the state and national economy, farmers in upstate New York are pressuring Albany and Washington for increased investment in rural infrastructures and rural broadband networks.

New York’s $4.5 billion agriculture industry is a major part of the state’s economy. In addition, it remains one of the few segment of the New York economy that is enjoying major economic success in the face of an ongoing global recession. High crop prices, high land values, increased demand, and aid from state and federal governmental agencies have helped create a thriving farm sector.

In the words of New York Agriculture Commissioner Darrel Aubertine, “Agriculture in this state in the last two years we’ve seen more attention paid to it as an economic driver maybe than ever before.”

However, at an agricultural development conference in Batavia, New York, Aubertine and other local agricultural leaders met with deputy undersecretary of Rural Development Doug O’Brien to address the needs of the state’s farm communities.

Of particular importance is federal investment in rural broadband internet development. Rural communities can often find it difficult to get access to high-speed internet. Many cable providers avoid rural areas that offer fewer profits and higher costs.  However, access to a modern information infrastructure is necessary for farmers to continue to be profitable in a twenty-first century economy. Internet access can allow farmers to do agricultural research, quickly and cheaply order supplies, plan weather patterns and crop plantings, and can put them in contact with a wider community.

New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is responding to rural demands by supporting the Broadband Connections for Rural Opportunities Program Act of 2012, which would cover up to 50 percent of broadband costs for rural communities.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer