January 28, 2021
Contact: Jon Conradi
Next Secretary of Agriculture Will Play Important Role in Federal Efforts to Expand Broadband, Support Precision Agriculture and Strengthen Rural Communities
Washington, D.C. – On Tuesday, February 2nd, the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry will hold a nomination hearing for former U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack to once again lead the department. Today, Connect Americans Now (CAN) executive director Richard T. Cullen released the following statement encouraging lawmakers and Secretary Vilsack to discuss key ways USDA can help close the broadband gap.
“USDA plays a critically important role in federal efforts to expand broadband connectivity, especially through the ReConnect Program,” stated Richard T. Cullen, executive director of CAN. “The next leader of this department must make closing the broadband gap a top priority in order to support the global competitiveness of America’s farmers and ranchers and strengthen the communities where they, and every American, live.”
“Ensuring USDA resources are maximized to reach as many Americans as possible will require a commitment to technology neutral deployment, allowing providers to utilize the most cost-effective solutions available in unique areas to connect the most unserved people,” Cullen added. “We encourage Senators and Secretary Vilsack to make his priorities and vision for USDA’s role in bridging the digital divide a top topic of discussion Tuesday.”
Key hearing questions for the USDA nominee pertaining to broadband connectivity could include:
Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), the incoming chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, expressed her commitment to expanding broadband connectivity in a press release on top priorities Thursday.
“The Committee will work with the Biden Administration and prioritize investments to improve economic opportunities and quality of life in rural communities, including expanded high speed internet access,” Stabenow said.
CAN is a coalition of more than 275 organizations and companies representing voices for agriculture, health care, education, small business, technology, veterans, rural advocacy and more — committed to completely and swiftly eliminating the digital divide in America through an all-of-the-above approach.
Read more on CAN and our mission HERE.