U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, welcomed Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner Michael O’Rielly to Nebraska. O’Rielly joined Fischer to host a roundtable discussion in Grand Island with Nebraska stakeholders to explore policies that will enhance broadband access for agriculture producers.
Senator Fischer released the following statement:
“Today’s roundtable provided an important forum for addressing the broadband needs of Nebraska’s rural community. I was delighted to welcome FCC Commissioner O’Rielly to Nebraska and introduce him to our local stakeholders. We enjoyed a robust discussion on the new opportunities generated from innovative technology while emphasizing the need for greater access in our rural communities.
“I want to thank Commissioner O’Rielly for taking the time to visit our state. By working together, we can find ways to increase broadband access and limit regulatory burdens. I will continue to welcome national decision-makers to Nebraska so they can better understand the needs of our citizens and see firsthand the impact of federal policies.”
FCC Commissioner O’Rielly released the following statement:
“I was honored to meet so many Nebraska stakeholders and engage in such a lively and detailed discussion surrounded by the sights and sounds of the state fair. Expanding broadband access to unserved communities has been one of my top priorities at the Commission, and today’s roundtable reemphasized the many benefits to be gained from doing so. I greatly appreciate Senator Fischer’s invitation to join this important conversation, which I will certainly continue back in Washington.”
High-speed broadband is providing new benefits to rural America and the nation’s ag producers. In today’s digital world, farmers are capitalizing on new connected technologies to collect and transmit data on everything from crop yields, soil moisture levels, and plant health to weather conditions and insect damage. Meanwhile, livestock producers are utilizing broadband to monitor animal health, financial markets, and feed availability.
This new technology brings with it new policies and questions over regulation and access. To help address these new challenges, Senator Fischer invited FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly to Grand Island, Nebraska this afternoon as part of her ongoing efforts to encourage innovation and streamline regulations. Representatives from Nebraska’s telecommunications providers, government officials, and agriculture producers were on hand to discuss their unique perspectives regarding policies the government can pursue to make broadband more widely available for agriculture purposes.
Key Nebraska stakeholders at today’s roundtable included Nebraska Public Service Commission Chairman Tim Schram and Executive Director Jeff Pursley, Ann Prockish of CenturyLink, Brian Thompson of Consolidated Companies Inc., Ken Pfister of Great Plains Communications, Grant Spellmeyer of U.S. Cellular, Sarah Werner of Nebraska Cattlemen, Andy Jobman of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association, Kevin Peterson and Travis Barker of the Nebraska Pork Producers Association, Tyler Fitzkey of the Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation, and Dean Hartwig of the Nebraska Agri-Business Association.
Commissioner O’Rielly is currently serving his second term as FCC Commissioner. He was first nominated for this position by President Obama in 2013 and unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate on October 29, 2013. For more information on Commissioner O’Rielly and his full biography, click here to visit the FCC website.