Tester’s Bipartisan Bill to Promote Precision Agriculture and Expand High Speed Internet Takes Big Step Forward

Senate Commerce Committee Overwhelmingly Passes Bill to Boost Access to Latest Ag Technologies

(Big Sandy, Mont.)-U.S. Senator Jon Tester is delivering good news to Montana farmers and ranchers after a long winter: his bipartisan bill to promote precision agriculture and expand rural high-speed internet is on its way to the Senate floor.

Tester teamed up with Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Commerce Committee to pass the Precision Agriculture Connectivity Act last week, which will boost access to the latest technology and high-speed internet for Montana farmers and ranchers. Tester’s bill also instructs the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to develop ways to increase mobile wireless service in farming and ranching areas where it is currently unavailable.

“From the combustion engine to GPS control, technology has always been a driving force of production agriculture,” said Tester, the Senate’s only working farmer. “Our bipartisan bill will empower family farmers and ranchers to utilize the latest technology to efficiently increase yields and save their families money.”

The Precision Agriculture Connectivity Act will direct the FCC to establish a task force to identify gaps in high-speed internet connectivity and mobile wireless service for the nation’s cropland and ranchland. The task force will also produce legislative and executive recommendations to promote the deployment of precision agriculture technology. The goal of the task force will be to deliver reliable precision agriculture technology to 95 percent of farmlands in the U.S. by 2025.

Precision agriculture is an approach to farming and ranching that uses information technologies, such as wireless internet and mobile devices, to better manage crop cycles, irrigation, soil health, harvests and other aspects of production agriculture. Precision agriculture is a growing component of farming and ranching in Montana and across the country.

Tester successfully pushed the FCC to expand wireless coverage to a large portion of Montana earlier this year.