Last year, Representative Mary Dye championed legislation that would increase efforts to provide rural Washington with broadband service. Dye said for eastern Washington farmers to compete regardless of commodity, they need to be connected to the fastest internet available.
“We’re very techy. We have all of our GPS, we have precision Ag, we have a lot of data, we collect a lot of data, every foot of our harvest cycle, and then we utilize that data to do a more precise job of our agricultural operations. But, the markets don’t slow down for us either. And to have that connectivity is absolutely critical to remain competitive in the global market place.”
To help rural communities connect to the fiber network, Dye has proposed legislation, House Bill 1606, which would expand grants and loans made through the Community Economic and Revitalization Board. She said the legislation allows communities to succeeded more, thanks to the free market.
Governor Jay Inslee has also proposed a bill, House Bill 1498, which would have many of those grant programs go through a state agency. Dye said the Governor’s proposal is heavy handed and would not help rural Washington communities. She said technology requires only a light touch from the hand of Olympia.
“The less we do, the more innovation will occur our on the ground. We can’t anticipate what technology will bring so, we need to be very careful as representatives, as legislators, to not impede the innovators in the job that they want to do. We’re never going to be the smartest people in the room.”
Both bill are scheduled to get a committee vote on Friday.
If you have a story idea for the Washington Ag Network, call (509) 547-1618, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org