From the perspective of the California Emerging Technology Fund, presidential leadership is needed on broadband: Broadband Breakfast
WASHINGTON, October 6, 2021 – Through his experience at the head of a century-old agricultural cooperative, Beth ford said he saw first-hand the importance of connectivity, and in response his company created the American Connection Project with a mission to foster long-term digital access and inclusion in rural America.
As president of Land O’Lakes and keynote speaker at the Independent Show, a virtual conference hosted by ACA Connects, Ford said her company has partnered with 170 different organizations including Microsoft, Lumen, Nestle, Dell, Hershey, Google Fiber, Baylor. Scoot & White, Scholastic, and Hewlett Packard in their advocacy efforts to seek federal funding, resources, and policy changes to bridge the digital divide in rural America.
For Ford, it’s a matter of national security. Without widespread broadband access, there is a marked reduction in food security, health care and education. Ford believes the nation would be stronger with better broadband and is weaker because of digital inequalities.
The American Connection Project created a scholarship, the American Connection Corps, for the express purpose of taking educated young people who have recently graduated from college and are returning to their rural hometowns to participate in the field effort. aimed at boosting connectivity.
Perhaps the biggest achievement of the project was establishing over 3,000 free public Wi-Fi Pitches in 49 states. While they admit that this is a temporary solution that does not go to the heart of the systemic issues that fuel the digital divide, these stations are an empathetic resource that has touched thousands of lives.
Ford said she was thrilled with the bipartisan infrastructure bill, noting that although the $ 65 billion in proposed broadband funding did not meet the $ 80 billion target of their efforts to advocacy was a huge price tag that would change the American broadband landscape for the better.
Discover the importance of broadband
Ford said she learned the value of hard work in corn shelling on her family farm in Sioux City, Iowa, with her seven siblings, two of whom have found themselves as successful businesswomen in the telecommunications industry.
You might know Land O’Lakes by their butter, but the $ 15 billion Fortune 200 company is much more. Land O’Lakes is a century-old farmer cooperative with subsidiaries such as a sustainable production company, exotic animal feed, the leading producer of rice and tapioca pudding in the United States and Canada, distributors of micro – ingredients, egg producers, an NGO focused on facilitating agricultural practices in Africa, a South African herbicide producer and more recently the American Connection Project.
During his travels through rural America, Ford noticed that health care access and outcomes, food security and education were suffering. She discovered that “the biggest catalyst of our time is technology, it’s access to broadband.”
Broadband was the âbasic wiringâ that would drive job growth, population growth, food security, education and access to healthcare that became even more evident during the pandemic, a- she said, as our communities had to socially distance themselves for the health and safety of our neighbors resulting in the closure of many rural health facilities.