At the 2019 State of Technology Conference today, Senator John Hoeven outlined the intersection between North Dakota’s growing technology sector and the state’s primary industry of agriculture. The senator highlighted companies like Bushel Solutions, formerly Myriad Mobile, which has pivoted to focusing on mobile applications for farmers and ranchers and is on Inc. 5000’s list of the nation’s fastest growing companies for the fourth year in a row.
“Our state’s growing technology sector is not only creating good jobs, but it is helping to advance our state’s top economic industries, like agriculture,” said Hoeven. “In order to further support this convergence of technology and agriculture, we’ve worked hard to secure funding for rural broadband and to grow our state’s UAS capabilities. These technological advancements will help ensure our farmers remain competitive on the global scale.”
Hoeven stressed that such developments showcase how agriculture continues to move toward high-tech applications, such as the use of Precision Agriculture technologies, which can help producers improve the efficiency of their operations and improve yields. Hoeven is working to advance the development and adoption of new agriculture technologies and ensure rural America is positioned to make good use of these tools. To this end, the senator has prioritized:
- Investing in rural broadband.
- Growing the state’s leadership in unmanned aerial systems (UAS).
- Supporting entrepreneurs and innovators.
Investing in Rural Broadband
To properly utilize the data from UAS on farms and ranches, producers need access to robust telecommunications infrastructure like broadband. To this end, Hoeven:
- Passed the Precision Agriculture Connectivity Act, bipartisan legislation to help ensure adequate broadband connectivity in rural areas on farm and ranchland to support the adoption of precision agriculture, which will reduce costs and improve yields. The legislation was signed into law as part of the Farm Bill last year.
- As chairman of the Agriculture Appropriations Committee, secured a total of $1.1 billion across fiscal years 2018 and 2019 for the ReConnect Program, a rural broadband loan and grant pilot program targeted to areas that currently lack access to quality broadband service.
- Reintroduced his bipartisan Move America Act, which would provide tax credits and tax-exempt bonds to help grow and repair the country’s infrastructure, including rural broadband.
Expanding UAS Operations
Hoeven has worked to grow the state’s UAS industry, including establishing the Northern Plains UAS Test Site and Grand Sky. The senator continues his efforts to ensure the state’s leadership in UAS, including:
- Working with the FAA to provide clear guidelines and a timeline for allowing the Test Site and North Dakota’s Integration Pilot Program (IPP) to conduct beyond-visual-line-of-sight-flights (BVLOS) without a chase plane on a routine basis.
- Securing radars in Grand Forks and Fargo to enable the Red River Valley’s UAS Super Corridor, which will advance the integration of UAS into the national airspace and help in the development of a broad range of applications for unmanned aircraft, including in agriculture.
- Bringing USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue to North Dakota’s Grand Farm, a project led by Emerging Prairie to develop and demonstrate the next generation of precision agriculture.
- Secure $3 million for UAS Precision Agriculture research under the Agriculture Research Service (ARS) in Fiscal Year 2019 and will work to maintain this funding in future appropriations bills.
Supporting Tech Entrepreneurs & Innovators
Hoeven has worked since his time as governor to establish North Dakota as a hub of tech entrepreneurship and helped promote new opportunities for innovation and investment in the state’s traditional industries, like agriculture and energy, as well as in newer technology sectors. As part of his continued efforts, Hoeven has:
- Helped introduce the Portable Benefits for Independent Workers Pilot Program Act, bipartisan legislation would make portable benefits more accessible for entrepreneurs and provide greater certainty for them and their families.
- Joined the Entrepreneurship Caucus, which works to address the issues facing the nation’s entrepreneurs and small businesses, bolster the creation of startups and increase the capital investment flowing into the U.S.
State of Technology
Hoeven holds his State of Technology Conference with the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce each year to highlight breakthrough technologies and the local innovators creating them. The conference has served as a catalyst for new innovation and investment in the state and is part of the senator’s work to position North Dakota as a hub of technology entrepreneurship, the third wave in the state’s economic growth. This is the senator’s ninth State of Technology Conference and the senator has highlighted the work of more than 70 tech entrepreneurs.
Hoeven’s emphasis on technology in agriculture was complemented by the two keynote speakers he secured for this year’s conference:
- Dana Peterson, who oversees the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s efforts on Next Generation Precision Agriculture.
- Joseph Van Valen, a White House Fellow in the Office of Science and Technology Policy and lead policy advisor for the administration on advanced transportation, which includes UAS and autonomous vehicles.