BLOOMINGTON, ILL – DECEMBER 5, 2022 –  The Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) along with the United Soybean Board, the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society, Illinois Office of Broadband, University of Illinois Extension, and Illinois Innovation Network is proud to support Broadband Breakthrough: Infrastructure Planning for Rural Farming Communities.

Broadband Breakthrough is an agricultural-focused cohort of five counties that will field test a Rural Broadband Infrastructure Planning Tool created by a research team from the Illinois State University Department of Geography, Geology and Environment. The goal is to be more intentional in engaging ag-sector representatives, in addition to other community stakeholders. Various GIS tools and maps will be made available to support county-wide broadband planning.

“Today, broadband is a necessary tool to innovate farming practices and allow for sustainable, targeted, and efficient resource use,” said ISA Director of Market Development, Todd Main. “Farmers need connectivity in the farmhouse and farm office, in the field, and in their communities to benefit from online access to healthcare resources, professional and learning opportunities, and enhanced quality of life. Inadequate broadband limits productivity and growth, hindering the ability of farmers to connect to markets, information, and each other.’”

Rural communities need to expand their measures of success; a demonstration of the impact of robust broadband on soy and corn crop production can help farmers and farming communities justify investments, and plan and leverage infrastructure to deploy precision agriculture tools.

“Agriculture production in Illinois is poised to enjoy a significant productivity increase with the use of technology and data management, but is currently constrained by lack of access to high-performance broadband service,” said Main. “What is needed are accurate maps, sound network deployment capable of robust upload speeds, and scalable technologies.”

Broadband Breakthrough will recommend how the Planning Tool, combined with a community broadband engagement and planning program, can be used by rural communities to plan the level and cost of broadband service optimal for residential and agricultural needs. By providing resources needed for broadband investment, the Planning Tool can help farmer leaders and farming communities leverage the unprecedented state broadband funding allocated in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and invest in improving agricultural productivity.

The program is being made available to 14 Illinois counties. Those counties eligible for the Rural Broadband Infrastructure Planning Tool Program are: Bond, Christian, Clinton, Edgar, Hancock, Henry, Iroquois, Kankakee, LaSalle, Macoupin, McLean, Ogle, Washington, and Wayne.

Any of the 14 counties listed above wishing to participate in this ag-focused cohort should complete the and check the Application Disclosure box at the bottom of page 2 expressing interest in the ag-focused program.

Questions about the agriculture-focused program should be directed to: Bill Coleman, or 651-491-2551.

Applications are due December 16, 2022. We will notify counties of their acceptance the week of December 19. We anticipate starting this four-month program that meets weekly for two hours in the second half of January 2023. Counties will be required to recruit teams of 8-15 people comprised of ag-sector representatives and other community stakeholders who commit to attend the program.

The program is underwritten by the United Soybean Board. Partners include the Illinois Soybean Association, the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society, Illinois Office of Broadband, University of Illinois Extension, and Illinois Innovation Network.

The Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) checkoff and membership programs represent more than 43,000 soybean farmers in Illinois. The checkoff funds market development and utilization efforts while the membership program supports the government relations interests of Illinois soybean farmers at the local, state, and national level, through the Illinois Soybean Growers (ISG). ISA upholds the interests of Illinois soybean producers through promotion, advocacy, and education with the vision of becoming a market leader in sustainable soybean production and profitability. For more information, visit the website and


Published On: December 5, 2022Categories: Latest News, Press ReleasesTags:

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