In recent years, the Indiana General Assembly has made meaningful steps toward expanding broadband to rural Hoosiers living in unserved areas. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the extent of the challenges that still exist, which is why Indiana Farm Bureau’s top priority is to expand broadband to the unserved and underserved areas of Indiana.
As a leading advocate on broadband, INFB launched a broadband campaign – “Broadband: The Connection to Indiana’s Future.” The campaign, which began in March and will run through the end of the legislative session, is aimed at ensuring lawmakers understand the need for rural broadband not just for communities that are unserved, but also those that are underserved.
The campaign features several different strategies to help tell the story of broadband. Four INFB members from across the state helped highlight the impact slow speeds and unreliable connections have on agriculture operations, e-learning and everyday connectivity.
INFB members – Jeremy Barron from Whitley County, Brad Fruth from Miami County, Tom Milligan from Vermillion County and Jamie Schilmiller from Floyd County – are being featured on push cards mailed to legislators weekly for four weeks. The members, or “broadband ambassadors” also are being featured on INFB’s social media channels through the end of April.
Other strategies included:
“Now more than ever, it is obvious that broadband is a necessary tool that allows Hoosiers to communicate, stay connected and relate to each other,” said Andy Tauer, INFB director of public policy. “The pandemic not only highlighted the issues that still exist, but it forced families to deal with unreliable internet as it related to working remotely or e-learning.”
INFB will continue advocating at the Statehouse, working with lawmakers to pass legislation that increases funding for the Next Level Grant Program, increases upload and download speeds, and provides additional funding opportunities for local governments.
By law, the 2021 legislative session must end on or before April 29. An update about the broadband bills will be included in the June issue of The Hoosier Farmer.