PRECISION AGRICULTURE CONNECTIVITY ACT OF 2018
(House of Representatives - July 23, 2018)

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[Congressional Record Volume 164, Number 123 (Monday, July 23, 2018)]
[Pages H6595-H6597]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




             PRECISION AGRICULTURE CONNECTIVITY ACT OF 2018

  Mr. LANCE. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the bill 
(H.R. 4881) to require the Federal Communications Commission to 
establish a task force for meeting the connectivity and technology 
needs of precision agriculture in the United States, as amended.
  The Clerk read the title of the bill.
  The text of the bill is as follows:

                               H.R. 4881

       Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of 
     the United States of America in Congress assembled,

     SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

       This Act may be cited as the ``Precision Agriculture 
     Connectivity Act of 2018''.

     SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

       Congress finds the following:
       (1) Precision agriculture technologies and practices allow 
     farmers to significantly increase crop yields, eliminate 
     overlap in operations, and reduce inputs such as seed, 
     fertilizer, pesticides, water, and fuel.
       (2) These technologies allow farmers to collect data in 
     real time about their fields, automate field management, and 
     maximize resources.
       (3) Studies estimate that precision agriculture 
     technologies can reduce agricultural operation costs by up to 
     25 dollars per acre and increase farm yields by up to 70 
     percent by 2050.
       (4) The critical cost savings and productivity benefits of 
     precision agriculture cannot be realized without the 
     availability of reliable broadband Internet access service 
     delivered to the agricultural land of the United States.
       (5) The deployment of broadband Internet access service to 
     unserved agricultural land is critical to the United States 
     economy and to the continued leadership of the United States 
     in global food production.
       (6) Despite the growing demand for broadband Internet 
     access service on agricultural land, broadband Internet 
     access service is not consistently available where needed for 
     agricultural operations.
       (7) The Federal Communications Commission has an important 
     role to play in the deployment of broadband Internet access 
     service on unserved agricultural land to promote precision 
     agriculture.

     SEC. 3. TASK FORCE.

       (a) Definitions.--In this section--
       (1) the term ``broadband Internet access service''--
       (A) means a mass-market retail service by wire or radio 
     that provides the capability to transmit data to and receive 
     data from all or substantially all Internet endpoints, 
     including any capabilities that are incidental to and enable 
     the operation of the communications service, but excluding 
     dial-up Internet access service; and
       (B) also encompasses any service that the Commission finds 
     to be providing a functional equivalent of the service 
     described in subparagraph (A);
       (2) the term ``Commission'' means the Federal 
     Communications Commission;
       (3) the term ``Department'' means the Department of 
     Agriculture;
       (4) the term ``Secretary'' means the Secretary of 
     Agriculture; and
       (5) the term ``Task Force'' means the Task Force for 
     Reviewing the Connectivity and Technology Needs of Precision 
     Agriculture in the United States established under subsection 
     (b).
       (b) Establishment.--Not later than 1 year after the date of 
     enactment of this Act, the Commission shall establish the 
     Task Force for Reviewing the Connectivity and Technology 
     Needs of Precision Agriculture in the United States.
       (c) Duties.--
       (1) In general.--The Task Force shall consult with the 
     Secretary, or a designee of the Secretary, and collaborate 
     with public and private stakeholders in the agriculture and 
     technology fields to--
       (A) identify and measure current gaps in the availability 
     of broadband Internet access service on agricultural land;
       (B) develop policy recommendations to promote the rapid, 
     expanded deployment of broadband Internet access service on 
     unserved agricultural land, with a goal of achieving reliable 
     capabilities on 95 percent of agricultural land in the United 
     States by 2025;
       (C) promote effective policy and regulatory solutions that 
     encourage the adoption of broadband Internet access service 
     on farms and ranches and promote precision agriculture;
       (D) recommend specific new rules or amendments to existing 
     rules of the Commission that the Commission should issue to 
     achieve the goals and purposes of the policy recommendations 
     described in subparagraph (B);
       (E) recommend specific steps that the Commission should 
     take to obtain reliable and standardized data measurements of 
     the availability of broadband Internet access service as may 
     be necessary to target funding support, from future programs 
     of the Commission dedicated to the deployment of broadband 
     Internet access service, to unserved agricultural land in 
     need of broadband Internet access service; and
       (F) recommend specific steps that the Commission should 
     consider to ensure that the expertise of the Secretary and 
     available farm data are reflected in future programs of the 
     Commission dedicated to the infrastructure deployment of 
     broadband Internet access service and to direct available 
     funding to unserved agricultural land where needed.
       (2) No duplicate data reporting.--In performing the duties 
     of the Commission under paragraph (1), the Commission shall 
     ensure that no provider of broadband Internet access service 
     is required to report data to the Commission that is, on the 
     day before the date of enactment of this Act, required to be 
     reported by the provider of broadband Internet access 
     service.
       (3) Hold harmless.--The Task Force and the Commission shall 
     not interpret the phrase ``future programs of the 
     Commission'', as used in subparagraphs (E) and (F) of 
     paragraph (1), to include the universal service programs of 
     the Commission established under section 254 of the 
     Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 254).
       (4) Consultation.--The Secretary, or a designee of the 
     Secretary, shall explain and make available to the Task Force 
     the expertise, data mapping information, and resources of the 
     Department that the Department uses to identify cropland, 
     ranchland, and other areas with agricultural operations that 
     may be helpful in developing the recommendations required 
     under paragraph (1).
       (5) List of available federal programs and resources.--Not 
     later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act, 
     the Secretary and the Commission shall jointly submit to the 
     Task Force a list of all Federal programs or resources 
     available for the expansion of broadband Internet access 
     service on unserved agricultural land to assist the Task 
     Force in carrying out the duties of the Task Force.
       (d) Membership.--
       (1) In general.--The Task Force shall be--
       (A) composed of not more than 15 voting members who shall--
       (i) be selected by the Chairman of the Commission, in 
     consultation with the Secretary; and
       (ii) include--

       (I) agricultural producers representing diverse geographic 
     regions and farm sizes, including owners and operators of 
     farms of less than 100 acres;
       (II) an agricultural producer representing tribal 
     agriculture;
       (III) Internet service providers, including regional or 
     rural fixed and mobile broadband Internet access service 
     providers and telecommunications infrastructure providers;
       (IV) representatives from the electric cooperative 
     industry;
       (V) representatives from the satellite industry;
       (VI) representatives from precision agriculture equipment 
     manufacturers, including drone manufacturers, manufacturers 
     of autonomous agricultural machinery, and manufacturers of 
     farming robotics technologies;
       (VII) representatives from State and local governments; and
       (VIII) representatives with relevant expertise in broadband 
     network data collection, geospatial analysis, and coverage 
     mapping; and

       (B) fairly balanced in terms of technologies, points of 
     view, and fields represented on the Task Force.
       (2) Period of appointment; vacancies.--
       (A) In general.--A member of the Task Force appointed under 
     paragraph (1)(A) shall serve for a single term of 2 years.
       (B) Vacancies.--Any vacancy in the Task Force--
       (i) shall not affect the powers of the Task Force; and
       (ii) shall be filled in the same manner as the original 
     appointment.
       (3) Ex-officio member.--The Secretary, or a designee of the 
     Secretary, shall serve as an ex-officio, nonvoting member of 
     the Task Force.
       (e) Reports.--Not later than 1 year after the date on which 
     the Commission establishes the Task Force, and annually 
     thereafter, the Task Force shall submit to the Chairman of 
     the Commission a report, which shall be made public not later 
     than 30 days

[[Page H6596]]

     after the date on which the Chairman receives the report, 
     that details--
       (1) the status of fixed and mobile broadband Internet 
     access service coverage of agricultural land;
       (2) the projected future connectivity needs of agricultural 
     operations, farmers, and ranchers; and
       (3) the steps being taken to accurately measure the 
     availability of broadband Internet access service on 
     agricultural land and the limitations of current, as of the 
     date of the report, measurement processes.
       (f) Termination.--The Commission shall renew the Task Force 
     every 2 years until the Task Force terminates on January 1, 
     2025.

     SEC. 4. NO ADDITIONAL FUNDS AUTHORIZED.

       No additional funds are authorized to be appropriated to 
     carry out this Act. This Act shall be carried out using 
     amounts otherwise authorized.

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from New 
Jersey (Mr. Lance) and the gentlewoman from Michigan (Mrs. Dingell) 
each will control 20 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from New Jersey.


                             General Leave

  Mr. LANCE. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members have 
5 legislative days to revise and extend their remarks and insert 
extraneous material in the Record on the bill.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from New Jersey?
  There was no objection.
  Mr. LANCE. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, I am proud, today, to rise in support of H.R. 4881, 
authored by my colleagues, Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection 
Subcommittee Chairman Bob Latta and Congressman Dave Loebsack.
  New and exciting technologies are improving efficiency in nearly 
every sector of our economy. Rural America should not be left behind.
  The bill before us today focuses on the broadband needs of rural 
economies, our farmers and ranchers, to help take advantage of 
precision agriculture with improved internet access, GPS, and emerging 
technologies.
  Cutting-edge innovation like the Internet of Things, drones, and 
self-driving machines can assist in monitoring crops, reading soil, and 
more. Precision agriculture connects rural communities to the 21st 
century economy.
  This bill is a prime example of how the Energy and Commerce Committee 
is leading the way to close the digital divide. I thank Mr. Latta and 
Mr. Loebsack for their good work on this legislation.
  Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to support this legislation, and I 
reserve the balance of my time.
  Mrs. DINGELL. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, I rise to support H.R. 4881, the Precision Agriculture 
Connectivity Act of 2018.
  Access to broadband internet service is essential for participating 
in modern American life for both individuals and businesses. Farmers 
are no different. For them, a reliable, high-speed internet connection 
has become a necessity for managing their businesses efficiently. 
Farmers use it to collect realtime data on crops, buy equipment, verify 
weather forecasts, and check grain and feed prices.
  Studies estimate that the use of broadband in precision agriculture 
can increase crop yields by 70 percent by the year 2050 and 
significantly reduce operation costs. Yet many people living in this 
country still do not have reliable high-speed internet service.
  The Precision Agriculture Connectivity Act of 2018 would help 
facilitate the deployment of broadband to agricultural land by 
establishing a task force, led by the Federal Communication Commission 
in consultation with the Secretary of Agriculture. The task force will 
identify and measure gaps in the availability of broadband on 
agricultural lands.
  It will also develop policy recommendations to promote the rapid 
expanded deployment of broadband on unserved agricultural lands and 
promote effective policy and regulatory solutions to encourage the 
adoption of broadband on farms and ranches.
  Moreover, the task force will recommend specific steps that the FCC 
should take to obtain reliable and standardized data on the 
availability of broadband and make sure that such data is reflected in 
future FCC broadband infrastructure programs.
  H.R. 4881 is a bipartisan, commonsense bill, and I want to thank the 
authors, Mr. Loebsack and Mr. Latta, for the very hard work they have 
put into this measure. I urge my colleagues to support it today.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. LANCE. Mr. Speaker, I yield 4 minutes to the gentleman from Ohio 
(Mr. Latta), the sponsor of the legislation and the distinguished 
chairman of the Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection Subcommittee.
  Mr. LATTA. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 4881, the Precision 
Agriculture Connectivity Act, as amended, to help improve high-speed 
broadband access for our Nation's farmers.
  I represent the largest farm income-producing district in the State 
of Ohio; therefore, I am fortunate to visit farms across the region and 
learn about new technologies, like the Internet of Things equipment, 
that are helping to improve farm productivity and sustainability.
  But the unfortunate reality is that lack of high-speed broadband in 
rural areas, specifically in farm communities, hinders the use of 
advanced technologies in agriculture operations. That is why I 
introduced H.R. 4881, along with my friend, the gentleman from Iowa 
(Mr. Loebsack).
  Our bill would require the Federal Communications Commission to 
establish a task force, in collaboration with the Department of 
Agriculture, to review the connectivity and technology needs of 
precision agriculture in the United States.
  I believe by combining minds from these two expert agencies, along 
with relevant private stakeholders, the task force will be able to 
offer tangible solutions that will promote rapid, expanded deployment 
of broadband in unserved areas, creating a pathway for precision 
agriculture in our rural farmlands.

                              {time}  1430

  The true benefits of precision agriculture cannot be realized without 
the availability of reliable broadband internet access service. For 
example, with broadband, farmers can use connected tractors and other 
advanced technologies to collect field data in realtime to help with 
crop management. This type of technology helps farmers maximize 
resources, which can reduce costs and increase crop yields by up to 70 
percent by 2050, helping to maintain America's long-term leadership in 
global food production.
  Two farming seasons ago, I drove a tractor with GPS capabilities. My 
mom was raised on a farm in northwest Ohio, and, early on, my 
grandfather still used a team of horses. My grandfather would be amazed 
at how straight the furrows I made that day were, thanks to the 
connected tractor. I never touched the steering wheel. Because of 
broadband, the connected tractor was able to go down an entire row, 
without human control, and place fertilizer in furrows within one inch 
of where those seeds would be planted in the spring. It is technology 
like this that helps farmers maximize resources and promote 
environmentally sustainable practices.
  My bill will encourage this type of technology by bringing much-
needed broadband to rural, agricultural areas.
  Not only do I urge my colleagues to support H.R. 4881, but I would 
also like to quote the support of FCC Commissioner Carr. He said:

       In my time on the Commission, I have seen firsthand the 
     difference that broadband connectivity makes for America's 
     farmers and ranchers.

  He goes on to say:

     . . . running agriculture operations today requires expertise 
     in agronomy, technology, and data analytics. Bringing all of 
     those skills together to improve crop yields and efficiency 
     increasingly requires a high-speed broadband connection. So I 
     am pleased to see this bill move forward and hope that it 
     becomes law.

  Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for his handling of the bill 
today, and I urge support of the bill.
  Mrs. DINGELL. Mr. Speaker, I strongly support passage of this bill, 
and I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. LANCE. Mr. Speaker, I hope that everyone supports this bill, and 
I yield back the balance of my time.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the motion offered by the 
gentleman from New Jersey (Mr.

[[Page H6597]]

Lance) that the House suspend the rules and pass the bill, H.R. 4881, 
as amended.
  The question was taken.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. In the opinion of the Chair, two-thirds 
being in the affirmative, the ayes have it.
  Mr. LANCE. Mr. Speaker, on that I demand the yeas and nays.
  The yeas and nays were ordered.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to clause 8 of rule XX, further 
proceedings on this motion will be postponed.

                          ____________________