The delivery of better mobile networks and affordable, reliable, superfast broadband to rural areas is essential to the running of safe and efficient farms and to allow farmers to comply with new regulations, it was claimed yesterday.
With only 4 per cent of farmers having access to superfast broadband, the English NFU fired up a major campaign to get better connectivity in rural areas with the launch of a new report, Farm Broadband and Mobile Networks, to MPs in London yesterday.
The union said that while UK government planned to ensure that 95 per cent of premises had access to superfast connections, the majority of the remaining 5 per cent were likely to be farm businesses and rural communities.
The organisation’s vice-president, Guy Smith, said that poor access to broadband and mobile networks constituted a significant barrier to business development in these areas, stating that this was “neither sustainable nor acceptable”.
“The government is asking farmers to run their businesses in conditions that put them at an immediate disadvantage,” said Smith.
He said that instances of farmers having to wait 15 hours to download official guidance booklets highlighted the difficulties which the industry was having complying with increasingly online only regulation.
Smith added that commercial developments and the uptake of new technologies were also being hampered by poor connectivity.
“Farmers can’t harness the brilliant range of agri-technology which relies on a reliable internet connection. To increase productivity you need superfast broadband, to get out of the farm office and into the field.”