Inadequate broadband threatening farmers’ livelihoods

British Telecom (BT) and satellite operator OneWeb, which is partly owned by the UK government, have reached an agreement that will see the two working together to bring ultrafast low-latency broadband speeds to some of the hardest to reach rural parts of the country, where even their £5bn Project Gigabit programme would struggle to go.

The move comes as the National Farmers Union (NFU) this week urged the government to take drastic steps to improve the level of rural connectivity for farmers.

The NFU said it was ‘vital’ for the government to focus on helping farmers across the country, many of whom were increasingly reliant on broadband.

The union added that improving digital connectivity would open up opportunities for food producing businesses.

Deputy President Stuart Roberts said: “Good internet connections are so important for a whole range of tasks on the farm – everything from banking to managing suppliers and logistics – as well as for health and well-being.

“Investment in rural Britain not only brings about obvious benefits to food production but can have massive benefits for the whole country.

“This then delivers back to the wider rural economy creating jobs and boosting economic growth.

“A wider application of alternative broadband solutions, that could deliver good to average connection speeds for remote areas, should be a priority,”  Roberts added.

“The government and the telecommunications industry should also aim for total gigabit coverage in the future.

“Farm businesses must meet their huge potential; not only by increasing their productivity as food producers but in helping to tackle climate change and delivering on our net zero ambitions.

“We will continue working with stakeholders within the Agricultural Productivity Task Force and others to campaign for investment in our country’s digital infrastructure,” he concluded.

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