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NRTC Board Members Join Precision Ag Working Groups

Randy Sukow / Mar 13, 2020

Two NRTC board members were among the rural agribusiness leaders the FCC named today to working groups within its Task Force for Reviewing Connectivity and Technology Needs of Precision Agriculture. Jimmy Todd (pictured left), CEO and general manager, Nex‐Tech, Lenora, KS, will serve on the working group on “Accelerating Broadband Deployment on Unserved Agricultural Lands.” Bob Hance (right), president and CEO of Midwest Energy Cooperative in Cassopolis, MI, is joining the working group on “Encouraging Adoption of Precision Agriculture and Availability of High-Quality Jobs on Connected Farm.”

Even as the federal government has been working to finance broadband in unserved rural area through the FCC Rural Digital Opportunity Fund and the USDA’s ReConnect loan/grant program, it has also put a focus on the need for high-speed fiber and wireless service to support agricultural regions. Todd and Hance both have experience with providing broadband service in those areas.

Late last year, the FCC named the members of the task force, including telecommunications and electric-industry executives. At the same time, it said that it would later name additional representatives to four additional working groups on accelerating broadband connectivity; encouraging precision agriculture adoption; "Mapping and Analyzing Connectivity on Agricultural Lands," and "Examining Current and Future Connectivity Demand for Precision Agriculture."

The FCC has scheduled the next meeting of the task force for 9:30 a.m., Eastern Time on March 25. However, due to precautions to prevent spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), it will hold that meeting online only.

Other notable telco and electric representatives named to the working groups include

  • Mapping and analyzing connectivity group: Seth Arndorfer, CEO of Dakota Carrier Network; Lynn Follansbee, VP, USTelecom –The Broadband Association, and Mark Suggs, executive VP and GM of Pitt & Greene Electric Membership Corporation representing NRECA.
  • Group examining current and future connectivity demand: Valerie Connelly, VP of Government Affairs and Public Relations for Choptank Electric Cooperative; Jennifer Manner, executive VP and general counsel for Hughes Network Systems; Catherine Moyer, CEO and GM of Pioneer Communications, and George Woodward, president and CEO of Trilogy Networks, representing the Rural Wireless Association.
  • Group encouraging precision agriculture adoption: Lennie Blakeslee, managing director of CoBank and Josh Seidemann, VP, Policy for NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association.
  • Accelerating broadband connectivity group: Renee Bivens, state government affairs analyst for DISH; David Goldman, director of Satellite Policy for SpaceX, and Steve Vail, vice chairman, Board of Directors, NineStar Connect.

Arndorfer, Moyer, Goldman and Vail are also members of the parent task force.

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