WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), members of the Senate Agriculture Committee, released the following statement after introducing legislation to support the advancement of Internet of Things (IoT) technology for precision agriculture: 

“Precision agriculture systems gather important sensor data that can help ag producers do their jobs. However, unreliable signal connectivity or power can restrict Nebraska farmers and ranchers from reliably using this new technology. My new legislation will ensure that research and development consider the unique circumstances facing rural and ag communities,” said Senator Fischer.

“America’s economic well-being depends on the health of our farmlands. This legislation will support agricultural research and help develop new technologies related to farming and ranching. I’m proud to lead this bipartisan bill with Senator Fischer, and I will continue pushing for policies to strengthen rural communities nationwide,” said Senator Klobuchar.

“CropX is very happy to support this effort to advance the adoption of IoT for rural America, including programs to assist rural students pursuing STEM degrees through distance learning. We know from public and private research that adoption of advanced sensor technology in agriculture is lagging behind other industries, affecting not only growers’ ability to compete globally, but also efforts by growers to improve soil health and produce crops in the most sustainable way possible. We commend Senator Fischer’s work to promote advanced technology for on-farm use and are very happy to support this bill,” said John Vikupitz, President of CropX.

“Precision technologies will play an increasingly important role in the continued success of Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers. Increased federal investments in research that will advance precision agriculture is good for our farmers and ranchers and good for Nebraska, where one in four jobs is tied to agriculture. I commend Sen. Fischer for introducing this important legislation,” said Mike Boehm, NU vice president and Harlan Vice Chancellor for the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at UNL.

“I am excited to support Senator Fisher’s bill to promote R&D efforts in precision agriculture technologies. Reducing barriers for technologies to enter rural areas is an important objective to allow innovation to grow in America’s farms and livestock industries. Initiatives such as this help to expedite the development of new technologies that will improve productivity and create a more sustainable future,” said Brian Schupbach, Cofounder of Quantified Ag; Merck Animal Health Intelligence.

“Lindsay supports further investment to support our rural farmers who rely on connected technology to improve efficiency and productivity. Water is a precious resource, and we should take every opportunity to implement the tools needed to improve data reliability in rural areas, supporting increased yields and water conservation,” said Randy Wood, Lindsay Corporation’s President and CEO. 

More information about the legislation:

The bill would encourage National Science Foundation (NSF) support for research on advanced sensing systems for rural and agricultural areas, specifically taking into account rural and agricultural environments where there often is unreliable signal connectivity or power. This can affect how connected Internet of Things technologies operate in these settings.

Additionally, this legislation:

  • Expands the definition of “advanced technology” for NSF’s Advanced Technical Education (ATE) Program to ensure the inclusion of agriculture-related technology. 
  • Updates language in NSF’s associate degree programs in STEM fields to consider applications that incorporate distance learning into the curriculum. This would provide additional flexibility for students in rural areas or those who work on a farm or ranch.
  • Directs the Government Accountability Office to produce a report that provides a technology assessment of precision agriculture innovations, as well as reviews all existing federal programs that support precision agriculture.

Read the full text of the bill here.

Senator Fischer has been a leader on advancing IoT technology. Last year, the Senate passed her bipartisan DIGIT Act, which became law. That legislation convenes a working group of federal entities and private sector experts to facilitate the growth of IoT, particularly in key sectors such as agriculture, transportation, and health care.