Better Internet Access Needed for Indiana's Farming Communities

Indiana is working to bring better broadband to rural areas. The first step is completing the Indiana Speed Test.

Posted: Jul 9, 2021 6:50 PM
Updated: Jul 10, 2021 8:37 AM

Life outside the city limits comes with quite a few perks, including sprawling views of fields and neighbors who wave at each passing.

The lifestyle is known for its 'slow pace,' but Hoosier Farmers say their internet connection leaves them at a standstill most days.

"It is easier for me to drive 10 miles down the road to use the internet than to actually use it on our own farm; which is insane," explains Ben Kron.

Kron is the manager of his second-generation family farm, Kron Farms, in northern Vanderburgh County. Despite being just 25 minutes from Downtown Evansville, he says the internet speeds can cost him hours on the farm.

"It takes a 20-minute project and turns it into an all-day project," continues Kron.

And while the way of life is rooted in years of tradition, technology has crept into every aspect of crop production.

"It's not just dragging a tractor out to a field anymore," explains Kron. "The stuff we have runs off iPads and things like that. It's hard to plant without an iPad now."

But that expanding technology also means, with a few clicks, farmers like Kron can look up the exact water content of their fields, spread seed more accurately, and use the land and resources more efficiently.

Those apps need high-speed internet to function effectively and Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch is among state lawmakers working to get farms like the Kron's connected.

"In years to come. We are going to have to produce more with the same amount that we have today and that means utilizing technology more. Having that internet access is absolutely key," explains Lt. Gov. Crouch, who also services as the Indiana Secretary of Agriculture.

The effort began in 2018 with a Purdue University study that revealed 400,000 Hoosier were in 'internet darkness.' To date, the state has invested $79 million which is expected to connect 22,000 businesses and families across the state.

In the last budget, Indiana set aside another $250 million to support the project. Lt. Gov. Crouch says there is also federal funding that will be available.

Right now, the state is asking all Hoosiers to log onto the Indiana Speed Test to gather better data about where the expansion is needed. Even if you don't have the internet, you can log on at a local library or business and enter your address to make sure your home is accounted for in the project.

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