View from the Cab: Staying Connected

December 4, 2017

 

In this world of social networking, cell phones and computers, are we truly connected?

 

The answer is no if you are like me and live in the country. Many farmers and rural residents struggle with having a reliable Internet connection unlike our city friends. Doug Wilson, state director for USDA Rural Development, realizes many of us don’t have adequate Internet service so his office is focusing on broadband connectivity.

 

“The world lives by the Internet now for better and worse. Making sure people have that opportunity is one of the priorities,” Wilson told me during the recent Farm Assets Conference.

 

Since there are challenges with wireless connections out in the countryside, Wilson believes it all comes down to how maps are laid out and where fiber optic cable runs.

 

“I think moving to the fiber is going to become more important and that’s where partnering with telecommunications is probably a way to do that,” Wilson noted.

 

The trick is finding an economical way to run a line 10 miles out to pick up a handful of farms. This doesn’t make much economic sense, but maybe this is something we can all work on as a team in the future.

 

“We want to keep young people here. Quality of life is very important to them,” added Wilson.

 

Wilson believes quality of life in rural areas is something many individuals long for but if the resources aren’t there, they may not pursue this.

 

In his role as state director for USDA Rural Development, Wilson not only represents the Trump administration in Illinois but also looks for areas of need. The majority of what Rural Development does involves loans or loan guarantees. Some grant money is used for the programs.

 

It was great seeing everyone at the Greater Peoria Farm Show last week. The attendance seemed down compared to past years probably because of the nice weather. I saw one guy harvesting soybeans and another working ground on the way to the show.

 

(The View from the Cab is sponsored each week by Petersen Chevy-Buick in Fairbury)

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