Millions of Americans go without broadband internet access -- most of them in rural communities. The American Connection Project fosters long-term digital inclusion in support of vibrant and thriving rural communities. Efforts include raising awareness about the critical nature of connectivity; advocating for meaningful policy reform and broadband investment; and, taking decisive action to provide connectivity options where they’re needed most. Land O’Lakes, Inc. is convening organizations and leaders from across the country in this critical time to build strong rural communities positioned for competitiveness and connection now and in the future.
Using the power of our cooperative network and in coordination with many partner organizations, more than 2,800 free, public Wi-Fi locations are available to our neighbors in communities across 49 states to use from the safety (and social distance) of their vehicles.
Explore the interactive Wi-Fi map of available locations right here.
This is a temporary patch for a much larger systemic issue. Solutions to the digital divide are needed for the communities that ensure our safe and affordable food supply.
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Action: A priority before (and during, and after) COVID-19
Strengthening connectivity and rural broadband access in rural America is critical for boosting on-farm sustainability; improving health outcomes; accessing distance learning and educational resources; exploring job opportunities; and even increasing understanding of where our food comes from.
That’s why we’re working tirelessly to bring attention to this issue among our business partners and state and federal government leaders, encouraging creative solutions from the private and public sectors.
Advocacy: The digital divide is unacceptable
All Americans need vibrant rural communities and the lack of broadband access today for rural Americans is unacceptable. Research shows that the unavailability of high-speed internet access creates less opportunity for those living in rural communities.
#Digitaldivide: A Pew Research Center survey from early 2019 found rural Americans are 12% and 16% less likely to have broadband at home compared to urban and suburban Americans, respectively.
Continued gaps in deployment: While the Federal Communications Commission’s 2019 Broadband Deployment Report showed progress in delivering broadband services in rural areas, it also reinforced what residents in rural America continue to indicate through polling and surveys: increased access to broadband is needed for rural America.
Farmer need: According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 25% of U.S. farms have no access to the internet.
Advocacy: Closing the digital divide requires federal support
Federal assistance and incentives are needed to ensure every corner of rural America is properly connected to the digital world. Land O’Lakes proposes the following actions be taken:
Increased funding: Federal funding is needed to fill the gap in poor infrastructure by incentivizing the telecommunications industry to bring broadband connectivity to rural areas.
Better mapping: Enhanced mapping of broadband coverage will enable targeted -- and accurate -- broadband deployment for those most in need.
Coordination: Stronger government coordination must occur at the federal level, as well as with states and localities, to effectively deploy these limited resources.
Action: How you can help
Based on estimates we’ve seen, we believe bridging the digital divide will cost a national investment of at least $80 billion. Tell your representatives in Congress that the question isn’t how we can afford this, but how we can afford not to bring connection to America’s rural areas.
Use the TestIT app to give policymakers a more accurate understanding of broadband gaps. You can find it here.
If you’re a business located in a rural area, consider opening up your guest Wi-Fi to neighbors who may not have access.
Awareness: Media, speeches, podcasts and more
Tractor Supply Company: Joining the American Connection Project Broadband Coalition with a $1M donation initiative
WIRED: The Pandemic Is Forcing Everyone to Face the Digital Divide
Farm Progress: Is pressure building for better broadband?
Fortune CEO Daily Newsletter: Land O’Lakes CEO Beth Ford explains why farmers need broadband
TrenchlessTechnology: PCCA Joins American Connection Project Broadband Coalition
Fortune Leadership Next Podcast: Land O’Lakes CEO Beth Ford on the importance of improving rural access to technology
Agri-Pulse: Land O’Lakes President and CEO Beth Ford
Broadband Communities: Land O'Lakes and Partners Form a Coalition to Close America’s Digital Divide
Light Reading News: Buttering up broadband: Farmers, ranchers lobby for rural networks
Farm Bureau News: New Coalition Calls for Immediate Action to Expand Broadband Access
Brownfield AgNews: 50 organizations launch coalition to close digital divide
WisBusiness: Cooperative Network: Land O’ Lakes and nearly 50 partners launch growing coalition to close America’s digital divide
Washington Policy Center: New broadband coalition urges Congress to invest to improve high-speed rural broadband
Cord Cutters News: Land O’Lakes and 48 Others Form Coalition to Bring High-Speed Internet to Rural Areas
Agri-Pulse Daybreak: Coalition aims for one voice on rural broadband
Multichannel News: Land O' Lakes Pushes for Better Broadband
Telecompetitor: Land O’Lakes Spearheads Broadband Coalition to Close Digital Divide
Broadband Breakfast: Georgia’s State-led Mapping Initiative, D.C. Has Fastest Mobile Speeds, Coalition to Fight Digital Divide
AgDaily: U.S. ag groups come together to close digital divide
Farm Progress: Coalition asks for action on rural broadband
Feedstuffs: Coalition hopes to close rural America’s digital divide
DRG News - South Dakota: Coalition Comes Together to Improve Rural Broadband Infrastructure
The Bradford Era: Wolf leads effort calling on feds to invest in broadband
My ChesCo: Gov. Wolf Leads Bipartisan Effort in Calling on President, Congressional Leaders to Invest in Broadband Internet Access
TIME: Land O'Lakes CEO Beth Ford on Racism in Minneapolis, COVID-19's Impact on Farmers, And The Need For Rural Wi-Fi
Business Insider: CEOs from across food industry share their insights
Spencer Signal: Land O’Lakes offers free Wi-Fi access to help bridge telehealth and educational digital divide
Rochester Post Bulletin: Land O'Lakes offers free Wi-Fi at Pine Island location
Farm Progress: Ag tech rides on broadband tools, when available
KTOE Minnesota: Crystal Valley to offer free Wi-Fi in parking lots
KNOP Nebraska: Land O'Lakes bringing free internet to rural communities
Pioneer Press: Land O’Lakes offering free Wi-Fi to rural communities. Will other companies follow?
Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal: Land O'Lakes switches on free Wi-Fi in rural areas
The Tribune-Democrat: Beth Ford: An investment in Pennsylvania's future
Land O’Lakes’ Something Greater Podcast: Disconnected: Disparities between rural and urban broadband internet connection
Yahoo Finance: Rural America needs massive broadband investment
Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal: Land O'Lakes CEO says it's time to close the rural-urban gap with high-speed internet
MPR News: Land O’Lakes CEO: Close the rural-urban gap with high-speed internet
AgWeb: Land O'Lakes CEO warns of rural brain drain
Star Tribune: Beth Ford, CEO of Land O'Lakes, Inc., calls for investment in rural America
Beth Ford speech at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis: A different kind of labor shortage
Marketwatch: 'Towns are rolling up on us' says Land O'Lakes CEO Beth Ford, pushes for broadband investment
Western Governors' Association:
"Reimagining the Rural West
" a keynote by Beth Ford (December 2019)
Nevada Independent: Governors seek funds to improve broadband
Pulse 2.0: The importance of connecting rural America
Fortune: Inequity between rural and urban America can be addressed with broadband
Land O'Lakes, Inc.: Accessing rural broadband -- strengthened through co-operative power
Beth Ford Speech at the Chicago Executives Club: From Farm to Fork to the Future
Times-Union: Land O'Lakes CEO touts rural broadband at Ceres event
Land O’Lakes CEO: Farmers Are in Crisis—and America Isn’t Paying Attention
Forbes: The Future Of Food Needs To Focus On Bringing Broadband To Rural Communities, Says Beth Ford
WHO 1040 News Radio: Gathering to celebrate our ag leaders
Action: American Connection Project Broadband Coalition is now 140+ organizations strong
The American Connection Project Broadband Coalition represents more than 140 companies and organizations who are working together to bring high-speed internet access to all U.S. households, with a focus on those in rural areas. The Coalition understands that digital connectivity is not a luxury, but rather is a lifeline for education, health, modern food production, and economic growth. Drawing from their cross-sector expertise and experience in rural communities, the members are making private investments to bridge the digital divide while advocating at the state and federal levels for permanent solutions.
The Coalition is continually adding members -- it's now more than 130 strong, spanning a range of industries -- who share a desire to connect the country. Read more here.
“All too often, farmers, business owners and even school children are disadvantaged by being on the wrong side of our country’s digital divide, a problem that has become more acute as we deal with the challenges of COVID-19,” said Beth Ford, president and CEO of Land O’Lakes, Inc. “But this isn’t just a rural issue. The American Connection Project Broadband Coalition represents a mix of companies from tech, health care, agriculture, and more who understand the ramifications of our country’s broken internet infrastructure and who have the willingness and expertise to help address this need. We are so grateful to our partners who recognize that connecting all Americans is possible and who are willing to work with us to close our country’s digital divide and invest in our collective future.”
Advocacy: Letters to Congress, governors + more