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                                                    Calendar No. 615

115th Congress }                                          { REPORT
                               SENATE 
  2d Session   }                                          { 115-342

======================================================================
 
            PRECISION AGRICULTURE CONNECTIVITY ACT OF 2018

                               __________

                              R E P O R T

                                 OF THE

           COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE, SCIENCE, AND TRANSPORTATION

                                   ON

                                S. 2343

[GRAPHIC NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT]


October 2 (legislative day, September 28), 2018.--Ordered to be printed
       
       
       
                               __________
                               

                    U.S. GOVERNMENT PUBLISHING OFFICE                    
                           WASHINGTON : 2018                     
          
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       SENATE COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE, SCIENCE, AND TRANSPORTATION
                     one hundred fifteenth congress
                             second session

                   JOHN THUNE, South Dakota, Chairman
ROGER F. WICKER, Mississippi         BILL NELSON, Florida
ROY BLUNT, Missouri                  MARIA CANTWELL, Washington
TED CRUZ, Texas                      AMY KLOBUCHAR, Minnesota
DEB FISCHER, Nebraska                RICHARD BLUMENTHAL, Connecticut
JERRY MORAN, Kansas                  BRIAN SCHATZ, Hawaii
DAN SULLIVAN, Alaska                 EDWARD J. MARKEY, Massachusetts
DEAN HELLER, Nevada                  TOM UDALL, New Mexico
JAMES M. INHOFE, Oklahoma            GARY C. PETERS, Michigan
MIKE LEE, Utah                       TAMMY BALDWIN, Wisconsin
RON JOHNSON, Wisconsin               TAMMY DUCKWORTH, Illinois
SHELLEY MOORE CAPITO, West Virginia  MARGARET WOOD HASSAN, New Hampshire

CORY GARDNER, Colorado               CATHERINE CORTEZ MASTO, Nevada
TODD C. YOUNG, Indiana               JON TESTER, Montana
                       Nick Rossi, Staff Director
                 Adrian Arnakis, Deputy Staff Director
                    Jason Van Beek, General Counsel
                 Kim Lipsky, Democratic Staff Director
           Christopher Day, Democratic Deputy Staff Director








                                                    Calendar No. 615

115th Congress }                                          { REPORT
                              SENATE
  2d Session   }                                          { 115-342

======================================================================

             PRECISION AGRICULTURE CONNECTIVITY ACT OF 2018
                                _______
                                

October 2 (legislative day, September 28), 2018.--Ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

Mr. Thune, from the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, 
                        submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                         [To accompany S. 2343]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, to 
which was referred the bill (S. 2343) 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, having considered the same, reports 
favorably thereon with an amendment (in the nature of a 
substitute) and recommends that the bill (as amended) do pass.

                          Purpose of the Bill

    S. 2343 would require the Federal Communications Commission 
(``FCC'' or ``Commission'') to establish a task force to make 
recommendations to the Commission and others on gaps in 
broadband availability on agricultural lands and ways to close 
those gaps in order to support precision agriculture 
technologies.

                          Background and Needs

    Precision agriculture practices allow farmers to 
significantly increase crop yields, eliminate overlap in 
operations, and reduce inputs such as seed, fertilizer, 
pesticides, water, and fuel. They allow farmers to collect data 
in real-time about their fields, automate field management, and 
maximize resources. These practices generally encompass the use 
of mobile devices, robotics, field sensors, remote monitoring, 
and other Internet of Things technologies. They enable farmers 
and growers to better manage their fields by obtaining more 
data about the weather, soil, air quality, crop maturity, 
equipment, labor costs, and resource availability. In turn, 
these precision agriculture technologies empower farmers to 
make smarter decisions about field management and increase the 
efficiency and productivity of their operations. Studies 
estimate that precision agriculture technologies can reduce 
agricultural operation costs by up to $25 per acre and increase 
farm yields by up to 70 percent by 2050.\1\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \1\Profiles in Innovation: Precision Farming: Cheating Malthus with 
Digital Agriculture, The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., at 4 (https://
docdrop.org/static/drop-pdf/GSR_agriculture-N1sH6.pdf).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The critical cost savings and productivity benefits of most 
precision agriculture technologies cannot be realized without 
the availability of reliable broadband delivered to 
agricultural lands. Despite the growing demand for broadband on 
agricultural land, though, many suggest that broadband is not 
consistently available where needed to support precision 
agricultural operations.\2\ And the Federal Government to date 
largely has not studied the unique broadband needs stemming 
from the increased use of precision agriculture. Most current 
Federal broadband support mechanisms focus on promoting 
broadband availability based on population. Ensuring broadband 
connectivity on agricultural lands and precision agriculture, 
though, may require adjustments in the way the Commission, the 
Department of Agriculture, and other Federal agencies review 
and promote broadband deployment and adoption. A task force 
would be useful in studying and making recommendations on these 
issues.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \2\See, e.g., Ensuring Intermodal USF Support for Rural America, 
Testimony of Darrington Seward before the Subcommittee on 
Communications, Technology, Innovation and the Internet, Committee on 
Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate, February 4, 2016, 
at 5 (https://www.commerce.senate.gov/public/_cache/files/86a9b24c-
e124-4b4b-a701-f0fe165be074/
F3297DD6CC57D51B9EA2A54F209F07E3.darrington-seward-testimony.pdf).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

                          Legislative History

    S. 2343 was introduced on January 25, 2018, by Senator 
Wicker (for himself and Senators Klobuchar, Daines, and Tester) 
and was referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and 
Transportation of the Senate. Senators McCaskill, Gardner, 
Hoeven, Blunt, Smith, Baldwin, Thune, Fischer, King, and 
Heitkamp are also cosponsors of the bill. On April 25, 2018, 
the Committee met in open Executive Session and by voice vote 
ordered S. 2343 to be reported favorably with an amendment (in 
the nature of a substitute).
    On January 25, 2018, similar legislation to S. 2343, H.R. 
4881, was introduced in the House of Representatives by 
Representative Latta (for himself and Representative Loebsack). 
On January 26, 2018, that bill was referred to the Subcommittee 
on Communications and Technology, Committee on Energy and 
Commerce of the House of Representatives. Representatives 
Hartzler, Luetkemeyer, Blum, Cramer, Brooks (of Indiana), Young 
(of Iowa), Blackburn, Griffith, and Walden are also cosponsors 
of that bill. On July 18, 2018, that bill was reported as 
amended by that committee, and on July 23, 2018, that bill was 
passed by the House of Representatives by a vote of 378 to 4. 
On July 24, 2018, that bill was referred to the Committee on 
Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate.

                            Estimated Costs

    In accordance with paragraph 11(a) of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate and section 403 of the 
Congressional Budget Act of 1974, the Committee provides the 
following cost estimate, prepared by the Congressional Budget 
Office:

S. 2343--Precision Agriculture Connectivity Act of 2018

    S. 2343 would direct the Federal Communications Commission 
(FCC) to establish the Task Force for Reviewing the 
Connectivity and Technology Needs of Precision Agriculture in 
the United States and select 15 members to serve two-year 
terms. The task force would be required to recommend rules and 
steps the FCC should take to expand broadband Internet access 
to unserved agricultural land and to report annually to the 
FCC. The task force would terminate on January 1, 2025. Under 
the bill, the FCC and the Department of Agriculture (USDA) 
would be required to provide information to the task force on 
all federal programs and resources available for the expansion 
of broadband Internet access to unserved agricultural land.
    Using information from the FCC, CBO estimates that 
implementing S. 2343 would cost $1 million over the 2018-2023 
period for the agency to oversee and appoint members to serve 
on the task force and to produce the required reports. However, 
under current law, the FCC is authorized to collect fees 
sufficient to offset the costs of its regulatory activities 
each year; therefore, CBO estimates that the net cost to the 
FCC to implement the bill would be negligible, assuming 
appropriation actions consistent with that authority. CBO 
estimates that the costs to USDA to coordinate with the task 
force and produce the required report would not be significant.
    Enacting S. 2343 would not affect direct spending or 
revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply.
    CBO estimates that enacting S. 2343 would not increase net 
direct spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four 
consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2029.
    S. 2343 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act.
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Stephen Rabent. 
The estimate was reviewed by H. Samuel Papenfuss, Deputy 
Assistant Director for Budget Analysis.

                      Regulatory Impact Statement

    In accordance with paragraph 11(b) of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee provides the 
following evaluation of the regulatory impact of the 
legislation, as reported:

                       number of persons covered

    The bill would have no effect on the number or types of 
individuals and businesses regulated in the United States.

                            economic impact

    S. 2343, as reported, is not expected to have a negative 
impact on the Nation's economy.

                                privacy

    S. 2343, as reported, is not expected to have an adverse 
impact on the personal privacy of individuals.

                               paperwork

    While the Committee does not anticipate a major increase in 
paperwork burdens resulting from the passage of this 
legislation, the Committee notes that the task force created by 
the legislation could recommend new data collection 
requirements for the FCC to adopt. The task force also would be 
directed to collaborate with the Secretary of Agriculture and 
others to identify and measure gaps in broadband access on 
agricultural land. The legislation also would direct the task 
force created by the bill to submit a report to the FCC 
regarding its activities.

                   Congressionally Directed Spending

    In compliance with paragraph 4(b) of rule XLIV of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee provides that no 
provisions contained in the bill, as reported, meet the 
definition of congressionally directed spending items under the 
rule.

                      Section-by-Section Analysis


Section 1. Short title

    This section provides that this bill may be cited as the 
``Precision Agriculture Connectivity Act of 2018.''

Section 2. Findings

    This section includes findings regarding the benefits of 
precision agriculture and the need for broadband Internet 
access service in unserved and underserved agriculture land in 
order to further those benefits. The findings would further 
note that broadband service is not consistently available where 
needed for agricultural operations in the United States. 
Finally, the section would find that the FCC has an important 
role to play in the deployment of broadband Internet access 
service.

Section 3. Task Force

    Subsection (a) of this section would set out definitions 
used in the bill. In particular, it would provide that the term 
``broadband Internet access service'' has the meaning given the 
term in section 8.2 of title 47, Code of Federal Regulations, 
or any successor regulation.
    Subsection (b) of this section would direct the FCC to 
establish, within a year of enactment, the Task Force for 
Reviewing the Connectivity and Technology Needs of Precision 
Agriculture in the United States (Task Force).
    Subsection (c) of this section would set out the duties of 
the Task Force. Specifically, the Task Force, in consultation 
with the Secretary of Agriculture (or designee), and in 
collaboration with public and private stakeholders, would be 
required to do the following: (1) identify and measure current 
gaps in the availability of broadband Internet access service 
on agricultural land; (2) 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; (3) promote effective policy 
and regulatory solutions that encourage the adoption of 
broadband Internet access service on farms and ranches and 
promote precision agriculture; (4) recommend rules or 
amendments to rules of the Commission to achieve the bill's 
goals and purposes; (5) 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 broadband funding 
support, from existing or future programs of the Commission 
dedicated to the deployment of broadband Internet access 
service, to unserved agricultural land; and (6) recommend 
specific steps that the Commission should consider to ensure 
that the expertise of the Secretary and available farm data are 
reflected in existing or 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.
    Subsection (c) would further require that the Commission, 
in performing duties under this section, ensure that no 
provider of broadband Internet access service be required to 
provide duplicates of data that the provider is already 
required to report.
    Subsection (c) also would direct the Task Force and the 
Commission not to interpret the phrase ``future programs of the 
Commission'' as used in this section to include future 
operations of extant universal service programs of the 
Commission established under section 254 of the Communications 
Act of 1934.
    Subsection (c) also would require the Secretary of 
Agriculture (or a designee), to make available to the Task 
Force, the expertise, data mapping information, and resources 
of the Department of Agriculture. Further, it would require 
that, within 180 days of enactment, the Secretary and the 
Commission 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.
    Subsection (d) of this section would set forth various 
operational specifics for the Task Force. It would be composed 
of not more than 15 voting members who would be selected by the 
FCC Chairman and would be required to include representatives 
of various named stakeholder groups. The subsection also would 
specify that the Task Force should be fairly balanced in terms 
of technologies, points of view, and fields represented on the 
Task Force. The Committee recommends, given the 
responsibilities of the Task Force, that the FCC Chairman 
consider including representatives on the Task Force with 
relevant expertise in broadband network data collection, 
geospatial analysis, and coverage mapping. Finally, the 
subsection would specify the treatment of appointments to and 
vacancies on the Task Force, including persons who would serve 
as ex officio members of the Task Force.
    Subsection (e) of this section would require that, not 
later than 1 year after it is established, and annually 
thereafter, the Task Force submit to the FCC Chairman a report 
on its activities, which would be made public not later than 30 
days after its receipt. The report would detail the following: 
(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 measurement 
processes.
    Subsection (f) of this section would require that the 
Commission renew the Task Force every 2 years until the Task 
Force terminates on January 1, 2025.

                        Changes in Existing Law

    In compliance with paragraph 12 of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee states that the 
bill as reported would make no change to existing law.

                                  [all]