January 16, 2018

New Rural Broadband Coalition Focused on Vacant TV Spectrum – “Connect Americans Now”

broadbandRallying around a plan to eliminate the digital divide by 2022, a diverse group of community leaders, rural advocates and top innovators today announced the national launch of Connect Americans Now (www.connectamericansnow.com). The new alliance will work with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and other policymakers to ensure that there is sufficient unlicensed low band spectrum in every market in the country to enable broadband connectivity.

“All Americans – regardless of where they live – deserve access to high-speed internet,” said Richard T. Cullen, Executive Director of Connect Americans Now (CAN). “Without a broadband connection, millions of students struggle to keep up with their assignments, Americans in rural areas are unable to fully utilize telemedicine, farmers are denied the promise of precision agriculture and businesses are unable to tap into the world of online commerce. Congress and the FCC must stand with rural America by allowing internet service providers to deliver broadband via white spaces spectrum.”

CAN’s founding partners include Microsoft, ACT: The App Association, the National Rural Education Association, the Schools, Health and Library Broadband Coalition, the Wisconsin Economic Development Association, Alaska Communications, Axiom, the Mid-Atlantic Broadcasting Communities Corporation, the American Pain Relief Institute, HTS Ag, and others. As a part of the initial launch, CAN is forming partnerships across rural America to educate stakeholders about the opportunities available via long-range, wireless broadband over TV white spaces. They also are spearheading an advocacy campaign in Washington, D.C., where FCC regulators have the authority to make sufficient unlicensed spectrum available in each market for high-speed internet.

“There are amazing educational resources online, but students without broadband can easily fall behind their peers,” said National Rural Education Association Executive Director Allen Pratt. “In rural communities, the digital divide is standing between millions of kids and the ability to research an author, watch a documentary, or just turn in assignments. We want all students to learn the computer skills that will help them succeed in the 21st century. We urge regulators to open a dialogue with our team at Connect Americans Now and unlock the incredible possibilities offered by this low band white spaces spectrum.”

“A reliable and cost-effective broadband connection will change the lives of millions of Americans who live each day without this basic necessity,” said Tad Deriso, President & CEO of Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities Corp. “Through our pilot project with Microsoft, we have witnessed the transformative effect that providing broadband via TV white spaces brings to rural families who otherwise could not obtain internet service, and hope that the FCC will embrace the potential of Connect Americans Now’s plan to close the digital divide.”

“Times have changed, and reliable broadband access is no longer just a luxury,” said Schools, Health and Libraries Broadband Coalition (SHLB) Executive Director John Windhausen. “Libraries, clinics and other anchor institutions lie at the heart of rural communities across the heartland, but they can’t provide the services people need without modern connectivity. SHLB is very pleased to join with Connect Americans Now to press for solutions that can work quickly to help close the digital divide and ensure that quality of life isn’t determined by zip code.”

The plan endorsed by CAN will rapidly accelerate the deployment – and reduce the cost – of high-speed internet service for 23.4 million rural Americans who live each day without broadband access. It does so by taking advantage of unused but powerful bandwidth below the 700 MHz frequency range, also known as TV white spaces, made available on an unlicensed basis. Wireless signals in this range can travel over hills and through buildings and trees and therefore are great for last mile broadband access in rural areas.

From education to telemedicine and precision agriculture to business development, closing the digital divide could transform the lives and livelihoods of rural Americans from all walks of life.

Implications of the Digital Divide 

  • 6.5 million students lack access to high speed internet, but 70 percent of teachers assign homework that requires a broadband connection. This means that millions of students – most often in rural areas – struggle to keep up with their assignments and fail to learn the computer skills they need to succeed and enter college or the workforce.
  • Telemedicine could collectively save lives and millions of dollars annually for underserved patients and rural hospitals that pay up to three times more for broadband than their urban counterparts. Broadband allows patients, regardless of where they live, to access specialists and benefit from advanced monitoring services that would normally require hours of travel for patients or their providers.
  • Broadband access brings the promise of precision agriculture, including remote monitoring equipment that helps farmers save money by optimizing irrigation, conserving resources and increasing yields. It also allows farmers to search for new customers, find buyers willing to pay higher prices and identify the most affordable sources of seeds, fertilizers and farm equipment.
  • Broadband access will drive economic growth and job opportunities by enabling rural small businesses to expand their customer base from local to global and attract new industries to rural communities.
  • High-speed internet supports workforce development by allowing rural job seekers to access services online, develop new skills through cloud-based training and secure additional employment opportunities like remote teleworking. It will also allow rural communities to keep and attract new workers who require a broadband connection to carry out their daily responsibilities.

About Connect Americans Now 

Connect Americans Now is a group of concerned citizens, local organizations, rural advocates and leading innovators committed to eliminating the digital divide that is holding back rural America. Our goal is to bring rural Americans who currently lack connectivity safe and affordable broadband access by 2022 so they can take advantage of the economic and educational opportunities that exist in other communities.

The E-Commerce Effect on Agriculture and Food

e-commerceShopping online has changed the retail world in the United States and globally. The National Retail Federation estimates e-commerce sales will be around $430 Billion in 2017.  Over the last decade, Amazon has changed the e-commerce game, pulling in more than half of all online purchases on Black Friday this year, and the company’s recent takeover of Whole Foods is expected to provide a huge bump in online grocery sales.

“In the ‘old days’ you had to go to several stores to shop for the best prices,” says Liang Lu of the University of Idaho, “now shopping and purchasing are often separate things. When we look at the online platforms, what are the benefits to the consumer and the producer? It’s time to discuss it.”

Lu is part of an AAEA session breaking down the worldwide impact at the 2018 Allied Social Science Association (ASSA) Annual Meeting, January 5-7, 2018, in Philadelphia. The session, entitled “E-Commerce and the Agrifood Supply Chain” includes the following topics and authors:

  • “E-Marketing and Supply Chains”: Lu and Thomas Reardon, Michigan State University
  • “Collective Reputation in Online Platforms and Private Quality Standards”: Jill McCluskey, Washington State University
  • “Food Waste and the Sharing Economy”: Timothy Richards, Arizona State University
  • “Formation and Evolution of Rural E-commerce Villages in China: Theory and Empirical Evidences”: Yiwu Zeng, Zhejiang University
This session is being held Friday, January 5, 2018, at 10:15 am at the Loews Philadelphia Hotel (1200 Market Street).

More About the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association (AAEA)
Established in 1910, the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association (AAEA) is the leading professional association for agricultural and applied economists, with 2,500 members in more than 20 countries. Members of the AAEA work in academic or government institutions as well as in industry and not-for-profit organizations, and engage in a variety of research, teaching, and outreach activities in the areas of agriculture, the environment, food, health, and international development. The AAEA publishes two journals, the American Journal of Agricultural Economics and Applied Economic Perspectives & Policy, as well as the online magazine Choices. To learn more, visit www.aaea.org.
 AgPR News Release

New “National Pesticide Safety Education Month” Will Focus on Safe Pesticide Handling

Weed Science Society

Today, scientists with the Weed Science Society of America (WSSA) joined with the American Phytopathological Society (APS) and the Entomological Society of America (ESA) to announce the first annual National Pesticide Safety Education Month that will be held in February, 2018.

“Today pesticides are used in and around homes, apartments, workplaces, farms and a myriad of other settings to control weeds, insects, disease-causing organisms, rodents and other pests,” says Fred Whitford, Ph.D., coordinator of Purdue Pesticide Programs at Purdue University. “That means everyone benefits when we focus on pesticide safety education. National Pesticide Safety Education Month is intended to reinforce the core principles of safe pesticide handling – from purchase to disposal.”

Many public and private sector groups provide education for pesticide users – from extension professionals, master gardeners and government regulators to manufacturers, dealers, retailers and pest management associations. Among the influential public initiatives are many Pesticide Safety Education Programs (PSEPs) run by the nation’s land-grant universities.

“Sponsors of the first annual National Pesticide Safety Education Month will provide cash or non-cash contributions in 2018 to one or more land-grant university PSEPs through the Adopt-A-PSEP initiative of the National Stakeholder Team for PSEP Funding”, says Wayne Buhler, Ph.D., coordinator of the Pesticide Safety Education Program at North Carolina State University. “Adopt-A-PSEP connects these important programs with organizations that are willing to commit funds to promote public-sector education of all pesticide users.”

Organizations interested in becoming a sponsor of 2018 National Pesticide Safety Education Month are encouraged to contact Buhler.

For more information on the safe and effective use of pesticides, see WSSA’s Pesticide Stewardship Series.

About the Weed Science Society of America

The Weed Science Society of America, a nonprofit scientific society, was founded in 1956 to encourage and promote the development of knowledge concerning weeds and their impact on the environment. The Society promotes research, education and extension outreach activities related to weeds, provides science-based information to the public and policy makers, fosters awareness of weeds and their impact on managed and natural ecosystems, and promotes cooperation among weed science organizations across the nation and around the world.  For more information, visit www.wssa.net.

About the American Phytopathological Society

The American Phytopathological Society (APS) is a nonprofit, professional scientific organization. The research of the organization’s slightly less than 5,000 worldwide members advances the understanding of the science of plant pathology and its application to plant health. For more information, visit www.apsnet.org.

About the Entomological Society of America

The Entomological Society of America (ESA) is the largest organization in the world serving the professional and scientific needs of entomologists and people in related disciplines. Founded in 1889, ESA today has more than 6,000 members affiliated with educational institutions, health agencies, private industry and government.  Members are researchers, teachers, extension services personnel, administrators, marketing representatives, research technicians, consultants, students and hobbyists. For more information, visit www.entsoc.org.