Farmers invited to voice opinions about broadband

MPs across the country have made recent claims that farmers and rural communities are severely hindered by their poor access to online services. More recently, the House of Commons’ environment, food and rural affairs (Efra) committee have focused more intently on the importance of broadband and mobile infrastructure in the countryside, and how digital networks are central to the prosperity of such regions.

Inspired by a National Farmers’ Union (NFU) report last year, which revealed that nearly two in three farmers were dissatisfied with their broadband speeds, the Efra committee has decided to turn their attention to farmers to assess whether initiatives made towards improving internet connectivity will be well-received and useful for those in the rural communities itself.

Committee chairman, Neil Parish MP, noted that little had been done to improve rural digital services in the last five years, stating that “until there is 100 per cent reliable broadband coverage then there will be those who, through lack of online access, are disadvantaged through no fault of their own.”

He announced a series of new policies and investment plans to spur on the development of adequate internet networks in remote areas, whilst also asking farmers for their opinions and input to optimise the deployment of infrastructure.

Specifically, farmers are being invited to outline and submit written evidence to an inquiry, which will allow the committee to assess the major limitations and growth potentials when it comes to improving broadband coverage.

Parish said: “The committee will also test how the government plans to ensure access to the growing number of online public services at no extra cost to rural consumers.

“As previous select committee inquiries have shown, delivery of broadband in rural areas in the past has been poor. We cannot allow this problem to continue.

“The government and services providers need to ensure that equal access to a high-quality, cost-effective service is accessible to all.”