CoBank, an American lending institution, is challenging cooperatives to become broadband internet servers for farmers.
CoBank said that together as a cooperative, farmers could afford what they can’t on their own.
And broadband service will help more farmers adopt precision agriculture technologies such as data analytics, connected equipment, robotics and automation.
In Ontario the federal, provincial and municipal governments are subsidizing installation of fibre optic cable to deliver broadband to rural people and businesses and internet providers such as Bell, Telus and Rogers are adding some of their money.
CoBank’s challenge therefore seems to come too late for most in Ontario.
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.