Chairman David Scott Opening Statement at Hearing on Building Opportunity in Rural America through Affordable, Reliable and High-Speed Broadband
Washington, July 11, 2019
House Agriculture Committee Subcommittee on Commodity Exchanges, Energy, and Credit Chairman David Scott of Georgia delivered the following remarks at Thursday’s hearing on building opportunity in rural America through affordable, reliable and high-speed broadband.
“Good Morning and welcome to today’s hearing of the Subcommittee on Commodity Exchanges, Energy, and Credit on broadband internet connectivity and the opportunities it presents for our rural communities.
“This issue is an important and timely one because it lets us shine light on those rural areas that have seen what broadband investment can do and are thriving because of their access to broadband.
“Rural broadband is a prime example of how government investments coupled with private innovation can create a ripple of success and increase the quality of life for Americans in rural communities.
“We’re going to hear today from a cross section of people who have worked to increase access to and success in healthcare, agriculture, local communities, education, and small business, on their successes in leveraging broadband connectivity to enhance the services they provide to their communities.
“And it’s my hope that through those stories we can have a conversation about those steps we still need to take, because there are many.
“In my home state of Georgia, we’ve lost seven rural hospitals since 2010, which is third most in the nation. In the absence of those hospitals, broadband access in many cases means the ability to access telehealth, which one quarter of rural adults say they’ve used.
“Within the field of education, the gap between rural and urban adults with a college degree continues to widen. Broadband connectivity opens up a range of possibilities for online continuing education and degree completion at an increasing range of schools including comprehensive state universities and our land grant colleges and universities, as well as regional schools with more specialized programs.
“Our farmers continue to use broadband to expand their toolbox and knowledge base to make the most of their precision agriculture applications, and small businesses can leverage broadband to access a world’s worth of consumers outside their own communities, but not if we do not make and expand this investment.
“I wanted to have this hearing so that we can see what’s being done well, what of those successes can be done in other communities and what work remains. I also know that Federal Communications Commission Chairman Pai plans on releasing an order very soon requiring increased reporting in an effort to improve the current failing broadband map system. It is very important that rural America weigh in on these policy changes at the FCC and here in the halls of congress as we continue to talk about proposals to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure. I know that all of us on this subcommittee agree, both Democrats and Republicans that it is essential that rural broadband is an integral part of any infrastructure package.
“I am eager to hear from our witnesses and how they tackled challenges in rural America to give communities the access and tools they need to thrive through broadband technology. We have to work together to make sure our policies encourage growth and success in our rural communities nationwide.”