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FCC Seeks Nominations for New Precision Ag Task Force

Randy Sukow Jun 17, 2019

The FCC, in coordination with the U.S. Department of Agriculture is forming a 15-member “Task Force for Reviewing Connectivity and Technology Needs of Precision Agriculture in the United States.” But it will be better known by the slightly less cumbersome Precision Ag Connectivity Task Force. The Commission is accepting nominations for task force members, which are due by July 17.

In a press release, Chairman Ajit Pai said that he has observed “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.”

Precision agriculture, according to one definition the USDA has used, is “a management system that is information and technology based, is site-specific and uses one or more of the following sources of data: soils, crops, nutrients, pests, moisture, or yield, for optimum profitability, sustainability, and protection of the environment.”

The Commission asks for specific types candidates for the task force, including fixed and mobile broadband service providers in rural areas, satellite industry representatives, and representatives from rural electric cooperatives.

The government sees the task force as a long-term operation. It will be renewable every two years through Jan. 1, 2025, and is to produce report on the state of precision agriculture annually. The report will include recommendations for government action toward several goals. Among the goals is expansion of broadband service into unserved areas, “achieving reliable capabilities on 95 percent of agricultural land in the United States by 2025.”

Broadband availability mapping is among the other issues the FCC asks the task force to track. Pai last week announced that he expects vote in August on an order improving the FCC data gathering procedures for broadband mapping. Going forward, the task force will “recommend specific steps that the Commission should take to obtain reliable and standardized data measurements of the availability of broadband Internet access service … to unserved agricultural land in need of broadband internet access service.”

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