FCC's Pai Creates Ag Tech Task Force

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has created a new task force to advise the FCC on policies promoting broadband connectity for farmers, part of the FCC's, and President Trump's, avowed focus on closing the rural digital divide so farmers can use precision agriculture driven by advances in high tech sensoring and monitoring. 

Now Pai just needs folks to fill those advisory seats.  

The FCC has put out a call for nominations, including ISP representatives, to the 15-member mouthful of a committee, the Task Force for Reviewing the Connectivity and Technology Needs of Precision Agriculture in the United Sates (TFRCTNPAUS, though the FCC does not suggest that should be its name in second reference). 

In addition to ISPs, the FCC said the task force will include representatives of "Tribal agriculture, Internet service providers, the electric cooperative industry, the satellite industry, precision agriculture equipment manufacturers, State and local governments, and representatives with relevant expertise in broadband network data collection, geospatial analysis, and coverage mapping." 

Pai, who is from rural Kansas, said in announcing the committee's creation: . “I’ve met the operator of a Kansas feedlot using fiber and wireless connectivity to monitor every cow’s unique in-take. I’ve met an Idaho farmer using everything from an LTE-based soil analysis app to drones to improve productivity and reduce costs on his potato farm. And I’ve seen other farms and ranches from Virginia to California that are using technology to put more and better food on our tables. This is the present and the future of American agriculture, and we must do whatever we can to support these producers and enhance precision agriculture.” 

The task force, prompted by the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018, wukk work with the USDA on those policy recommendations to the FCC. 

The announcement comes a week after Pai was pressed on closing the rural digital divide at an oversight hearing in the Senate Commerce Committee. 

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.