APLU Seeking Expressions of Interest for Online Conference


Call for Expressions of Interest:

Broadband’s Role in Rural Economic Development: Exploring the Intersection between Community and Agricultural Broadband Needs

Virtual Conference, January 27–29, 2021


Rural communities need access to high‐speed internet service; but access is ineffective without effective planning, widespread awareness, adoption, and utilization of digital tools by individuals at home, in their businesses, and on farms. While a body of literature has quantified the potential impacts of broadband access to rural communities, and a related set of studies has explored the impact of broadband on farms, we know of no conference, meta study, or report that has focused on the intersection of rural communities’ needs for broadband access and the application of broadband to smart agriculture. Unanswered questions include:  How important are broadband access and price compared to other factors in the adoption of smart ag technologies? Does farm adoption of broadband influence adoption for other uses—for example, for education, manufacturing, and other non‐farm business?  Are farm adoption and broader community adoption complementary in building the rural economy?   At a time when the national, state, and local governments are expending significant resources to provide or incentivize broadband availability to rural communities and their outlying farms, it is critical to understand how the demand for broadband among farmers might induce the provision of broadband to rural communities—sparking a virtuous cycle of higher agricultural productivity, increased adoption among consumers and other rural industries, leading to greater rural prosperity.  


The online pre-conference will seed ideas for a later, in person conference that will occur in the fall of 2021. The purpose of the online pre-conference will be:

  • Identify the researchers and extension professionals working at the intersection of community broadband access and the application of digital tools in agriculture
  • Surface the current stands of research in these areas and identify the research questions that have yet to be answered
  • Cultivate interest in this set of research questions and in the fall conference