(Learfield News Service/Washington, DC) U.S. Senator Tina Smith is confident rural broadband will be enhanced in the new farm bill.
Smith says internet connectivity today should be approached like rural electrification was in the last century. She says, “What we’ve included in the Senate farm bill will help to make that work. And what we’ve discovered in Minnesota is that if you have a public/private partnership, just like we did with rural electrification, you can get it done. You just need to put that oomph behind it.”
The Senate farm bill places new restrictions on USDA’s Rural Utilities Service Broadband Loan Program to simplify the application process to help under-served areas. The House version does not include this provision.
Smith echoed others who say the farm bill is close to the finish line saying, “I actually think we’re getting very, very close to an agreement. I don’t want to count my farm bills before they’re hatched, but it sounds as if they are working through some of the last of the issues.”
Smith says the 2018 Farm Bill needs to get done before the end of the year.