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FCC Releases Report Addressing Impact of Rural Broadband on Farm Productivity

The report, issued by the FCC’s Office of Economics and Analytics, finds that broadband availability has significant positive impacts on crop yields and other farm production metrics.

As part of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) efforts to support “precision agriculture” technologies and issues, the agency’s s Office of Economics and Analytics today released a new paper titled “Impact of Broadband Penetration on U.S. Farm Productivity.”

The working paper analyzes the impact of increased broadband availability in rural areas on the productivity of US farms, drawing on both FCC data on broadband availability by census tract and US Department of Agriculture data on agricultural productivity by county, for key row crops like corn, cotton, hay, and soybeans.

The working paper finds statistically significant effects of increased broadband service, both in terms of lower costs (fertilizer, fuel, seed, etc.) and higher production (yield).

In announcing the release of the paper, the FCC cited the following finding as an example of the information contained in the report:

“To cite one striking result, the analysis finds that a 1% increase in the number of 25 Mbps/3 Mbps or better broadband connections per 1,000 households is associated with a 3.6% increase in corn yields, as measured in bushels per acre.”

Paper Supplements FCC’s Aggressive Activity in Support of Precision Agriculture Connectivity

The release of the Working Paper builds upon the FCC’s strong support of Precision Agriculture technologies and issues, including the commitment of at least $1 billion, to be made available to specifically target the deployment of technologically innovative 5G networks that facilitate precision agriculture. These funds will be available in “Phase II” of the FCC’s 5G Fund, the general goal of which is to bring 5G wireless broadband connectivity to rural America. The Public Notice announcing the adoption of the Order allocating these funds can be accessed here.

In addition, in October the FCC’s “Precision Agriculture Connectivity Task Force” adopted reports from the following working groups:

  • Mapping and Analyzing Connectivity on Agricultural Lands
  • Examining Current and Future Connectivity Demand for Precision Agriculture
  • Encouraging Adoption of Precision Agriculture and Availability of High-Quality Jobs on Connected Farms

Our previous analysis on FCC’s work to support precision agriculture connectivity can be found here and here.


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