Chinn: High-speed internet crucial to attract next-generation Missouri farmers

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The Missouri Department of Agriculture (MDA) director says technology is important in attracting young farmers.

MDA says the average age of a Missouri farmer is 58.

“Two of the top priorities the governor has is workforce development and infrastructure,” MDA Director Chris Chinn says. “And I think those play in very nicely to how we bring that next-generation back home.”

Chinn says high-speed internet is crucial to attracting those next-generation farmers.

She says the entire Cabinet is working closely with Governor Mike Parson, a Bolivar farmer, on getting high-speed internet to rural areas.

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt (R) told lawmakers in April that 51 percent of rural Missourians lack access to broadband. During that address to the Missouri House in Jefferson City, Blunt predicted that broadband will be just as important during the next 50 years as the telephone was over the past 50 years.

“We need to make sure that they (next-generation farmers) have the tools and the skills that they need to come back to the farm prepared and ready. The infrastructure is all about, you know, the high-speed internet,” says Chinn.

She says the aim is to make Missouri the best place for businesses to grow and to relocate.

Missouri lawmakers approved a bipartisan bill this year from State Rep. Curtis Trent, R-Springfield, which enables the state’s rural electric cooperatives to make unused capacity available for residential and commercial purposes.

The bill also declares that the expansion of broadband service is in the best interests of Missourians.

Outgoing House Speaker Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, noted earlier this year that Missouri ranked 40th in the nation in access to broadband service.

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