This is a guest blog post from Jess Peterson, Executive Vice President of the US Cattlemen’s Association (and IIA Broadband Ambassador).

Today marks National Ag Day, a time to recognize the tremendous contributions of the agriculture community. Each year, producers, agricultural associations, corporations, universities, government agencies and countless others across America join together to celebrate all that this community provides today’s growing world. 

As a fifth generation rancher and Montana native, I believe celebrating the rich history of farming and ranching is extremely important. But it’s also important to have meaningful conversations about the current industry, and about how we can ensure that future generations will remain prosperous.  Access to broadband Internet must be a critical component of these conversations. 

As our nation becomes increasingly dependent on broadband technology, wired and wireless Internet access will become exceedingly important. Today, many farmers and ranchers already take advantage of technology; many even rely on it. Ranchers are able to watch live streams of local and regional auction yards and can stay on top of the latest market prices, both locally and across the global marketplace.

As the world population continues to grow, the amount of food and grain produced must grow as well. This means that the agriculture industry must become more efficient. In the 1960’s, one farmer fed about 25 people. Today, the average American farmer feeds 155 people.  Now that there is even less farmland available than there was 50 years ago, farmers and ranchers must stay on the leading edge of production and responsible agribusiness. Broadband Internet and advanced technologies help to make that possible.

In January of this year, Secretary Vilsack said that despite budget cuts, increased access to broadband remains a priority, and that more than 300 broadband projects are in the works to expand access to broadband to seven million Americans, including many farmers and ranchers. This is the kind of investment that we need to spur innovation and growth for years to come.

Access to high-speed wireless Internet is as important to America’s agriculture community as it is to every other segment of the economy. As we celebrate another year of successful farming and ranching, I encourage everyone to keep in mind the critical role that Agriculture plays in driving our economy, and to support policies to expand access to high-speed Internet that keep the Ag industry strong.

You can learn more about the United States Cattlemen’s Association on their website.