Farm Supply Co-ops Can Lead the Way for On-Farm Private Broadband – Benzinga – Press Release


DENVER, May 24, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — As American agriculture grapples with scarce labor and increasing costs, one solution could lie in precision agriculture applications that can maximize output while reducing costs. Crop and livestock producers have the opportunity to supercharge operational efficiency with advanced precision technologies such as data analytics, connected equipment, robotics and automation.

The lack of affordable, reliable broadband access in rural America, however, has hindered widespread adoption of precision ag technologies. That may be changing with the increasing availability of private wireless networks. Today a wide range of entities and organizations can enter the wireless network business and deliver broadband access in areas where it was previously scarce, if not unattainable.

According to a new report from CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange, agricultural cooperatives are in an ideal position to work with communication companies to deliver carrier-grade, high speed private wireless networks to their farmer members at costs that were unthinkable just a few years ago. Such networks allow for greater adoption of precision ag applications that can help farmers produce more efficiently.

“Offering these network solutions could be a new, reliable revenue source for U.S. farm supply cooperatives, helping them to offset the highly competitive and volatile business of fertilizer, chemical and other input sales,” said Kenneth Scott Zuckerberg, lead grain and farm supply economist with CoBank.

While the idea that agricultural co-ops should take the lead in developing private wireless networks sounds aggressive, Zuckerberg said co-ops are in a much better position than individual farmers to do so for several key reasons, including greater financial resources and their service-based orientation.

The Federal Communications Commission’s decision in 2018 to make 150 MHz of spectrum available in the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) band was the…