You may have seen a news story or two -- late last week, Congress passed the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. This landmark legislative package, once signed by the President, will provide funding for critical infrastructure investments across the nation. Land O’Lakes, Inc., through its advocacy during the past couple of years, played a key role in making it happen.
This bill delivers important investments in roads, waterways and broadband connectivity for farmers and rural communities. Land O’Lakes and many advocacy partners supported passage of the bill and applauded Congress for reaching this historic milestone.
“After two years of sweat, blood and sometimes tears, we have finally secured significant funding to close the digital divide. No doubt, this legislative win could not have been achieved without the collaborative efforts across this great enterprise and a willingness of everyone to roll up their sleeves and do the hard work,” said Autumn Price, vice president for government and industry relations at Land O’Lakes, Inc. “Additionally, our efforts through the American Connection Project in convening unlikely stakeholders to elevate our united voice underscores the power of the cooperative spirit and how we can achieve historic outcomes by working together.”
In the spring of 2020, Land O’Lakes convened the American Connection Project Policy Coalition, bringing together a diverse set of over 170 businesses, advocates, leaders and organizations across the food and ag sector, healthcare, technology, education, finance and more to advocate for bridging the digital divide. The digital divide is stark: more than 40 million Americans -- in both rural and urban communities – lack access to high-speed, reliable, affordable internet.
Want to learn more about the American Connection Project? Visit the website here.
This legislation delivers a historic $65 billion investment in broadband initiatives that will help to close the digital divide. Expanding access to high-speed internet is a critical priority for Land O’Lakes as the organization understands first-hand how digital connectivity is a lifeline for education, health, modern food production and economic growth in both urban and rural communities.
By taking so many daily activities entirely online – from schooling to doctor’s appointments and more – the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated inequities caused by connectivity gaps. Adequate access is also critical to farm operations and ag businesses as adoption of digital tools continue to help farmers optimize their operations and support a more efficient, sustainable and profitable agricultural value chain.
In the months ahead, Land O’Lakes will continue advocating for rural communities at the federal, state and local levels. As this legislation is implemented and the funds are made available, the cooperative will continue to work closely with the American Connection Project Policy Coalition members, policymakers and others to ensure this critical funding quickly reaches the communities that need it most.