From my perspective, the point of the meeting wasn't to push forward a government mandate or regulation to increase Internet access in small towns, and it wasn't to promote a particular company or corporation. To me, this was the opportunity to have a discussion with the media, policy-makers and key leaders about the importance of a strong communication infrastructure in rural America.
Agriculture has always been the backbone of the U.S. economy, and this is more important now then ever before. More ranchers are leaving the business, and there is a wildly growing population to feed around the world. In order for young people to stay in production agriculture, they also might need to supplement their cash flow with off-farm jobs. For example, I'm able to write remotely from the ranch to help support myself in the cattle business. Without a good Internet connection, this would be impossible for me. There are countless stories like mine, and discussing rural broadband issues is an important conversation we should all be having within our own states.
While in D.C., I had the opportunity to speak about this topic on FOX News, as well as speak at a press conference alongside U.S. Rep. Heath Shuler (D-NC); Jess Peterson, USCA executive vice president; Ed Luttrell, National Grange master and president; and Jon Chadwell, executive director of Newport Economic Development Commission. You can watch a clip from the press conference below.
I have enjoyed reading the many emails on this topic. Today, I would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions on rural broadband solutions and policies, as well as why you think a strong communication infrastructure is important in your community. Finally, let us know how the Internet service is in your neck of the woods. Are you able to stream the above video without interruption? I'm not!