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Land O'Lakes SVP to Chair FCC Task Force on Farmer Connectivity
USAgNet - 11/20/2019

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai, in consultation with Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, has appointed members to serve on the Task Force for Reviewing the Connectivity and Technology Needs of Precision Agriculture in the United States (Precision Ag Connectivity Task Force or Task Force). The Task Force will hold its first meeting Dec. 9, beginning at 9:30 am, in the Commission Meeting Room at FCC Headquarters,445 12th St. SW, Room TW-C305, Washington.

Chairman Pai has designated Teddy Bekele, Land O'Lakes senior vice president and chief technology officer, to serve as chair, and Catherine Moyer, Pioneer Communications chief executive officer and general manager, to serve as vice chair.

In addition, Pai, in consultation with the Perdue, has identified four working groups that will assist the Task Force in carrying out its work: (1) Mapping and Analyzing Connectivity on Agricultural Lands; (2) Examining Current and Future Connectivity Demand for Precision Agriculture; (3) Encouraging Adoption of Precision Agriculture and Availability of High-Quality Jobs on Connected Farms; (4) Accelerating Broadband Deployment on Unserved Agricultural Lands.

The primary agenda of the Task Force's first meeting will be to introduce members of the Task Force, describe the focus of each working group, review the 2018 Farm Bill and existing FCC and U.S. Department of Agriculture programs and policies relevant to the Task Force's duties, and begin discussing strategies to advance broadband deployment on agricultural land and promote precision agriculture. This agenda may be modified at the discretion of the Task Force Chair and the Designated Federal Officer.

The Precision Ag Connectivity Task Force meeting is open to the public. The FCC will accommodate as many attendees as possible; however, admittance will be limited to seating availability. The Commission will also provide audio and/or video coverage of the meeting over the Internet from the FCC's web page at www.fcc.gov/live. Open captioning will be provided for this event. Other reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities are available upon request. Requests for such accommodations should be submitted via e-mail to fcc504@fcc.gov or by calling the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau at (202) 418-0530 (voice), (202) 418-0432 (TTY). Such requests should include a detailed description of the accommodation needed. In addition, please include a way for the FCC to contact the requester if more information is needed to fill the request. Please allow at least five days' advance notice for accommodation requests; last minute requests will be accepted, but may not be possible to accommodate.

Members of the public may submit comments to the Task Force in the FCC's Electronic Comment Filing System, ECFS, at www.fcc.gov/ecfs. Comments to the Task Force should be filed in GN Docket No. 19-329.

Pursuant to the FACA, the Commission is responsible for oversight of the Task Force, including its subcommittees and working groups. As a result, FCC staff or Commissioners may participate in or attend meetings or other activities held by both the Task Force and its subcommittees and working groups. In light of this, Pai announced that, pursuant to section 1.1200(a) of the Commission's rules, 47 CFR 1.1200(a), presentations to the Task Force, including to its subcommittees and working groups, and at any roundtable discussions sponsored by the Task Force, as well as presentations between Task Force members (including members of any subcommittees or working groups) and FCC staff or Commissioners incidental to and in connection with such Task Force meetings or roundtable discussions, will be treated as exempt presentations for ex parte purposes. This exemption covers presentations from Task Force members to FCC staff and Commissioners in other settings only to the extent that the Task Force members are presenting the views of the Task Force or its working groups, as opposed to an individual member's own views or that of a member's organization.

Pai said that this modification of the ex parte rules is in the public interest because it will allow the Task Force to develop and shape its advice and recommendations to the Commission more efficiently and effectively.

Pai said FCC recognizes that some issues may be addressed by the Task Force that are the subject of pending FCC proceedings. The Commission will not rely in these proceedings on any information submitted to the Task Force, or to any of its subcommittees, working groups, or sponsored roundtables, or information conveyed by Task Force members (including members of any subcommittees or working groups) to FCC staff or Commissioners unless that information is first placed in the record of the relevant proceeding.

Senator John Hoeven of North Dakota, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee and a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, said, "We established this task force as part of the 2018 Farm Bill to help ensure farm country has the broadband connectivity necessary to advance precision agriculture." With our state's leadership in agriculture and our growing technology sector, it is only fitting that a North Dakotan be part of this important task force. Seth has been a valuable leader and partner as we've built out our tech presence in North Dakota including through the Dakota Fiber Initiative and my annual state of technology conference. We look forward to working with him and the task force to help ensure that we continue to lead the way in precision agriculture technologies, which will help our farmers to compete through innovation and efficiency."

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