Paulsen Staffers Attend Rural Infrastructure Summit

September 7, 2016

What will it take to keep American agriculture competitive and rural America more attractive for the next generation? According to a diverse group of experts, infrastructure enhancements to roadways, broadband, rural hospitals and waterways will be essential.

These were among several key messages from the first ever Rural Infrastructure Summit, hosted by Agri-Pulse and sponsored by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) in Ames, Iowa, on August 29.

Two panels of industry experts offered their ideas linked to rural finance, electronic engineering, communications, transportation, agricultural production and government policy.

Sara Wyant, Agri-Pulse editor, said, “We hope this Rural Infrastructure Summit is just the start of a continuing conversation about meeting the challenges to improve all modes of transportation and communications to keep agriculture competitive and rural America very livable.”

One of the panels addressed the topics of the growing need for improved roads, rail and waterways to transport ag products. However as the tax base continues to shrink in rural areas and the costs to make improvements continue to climb, county and state governments are hard pressed to commit to the repairs and improvements needed. Several panelists emphasized the importance of effectively communicating the need for rural infrastructure to legislators and urban voters.

The other five-member panel addressed the topic of “disruptive innovation” and discussed ways that new technology is rapidly changing the face of agriculture.  Speakers offered their outlooks on increasing operating autonomy for ag machinery in the field and on the highway.

“Motorized grain carts operating autonomously are definitely on the way,” said one panelist. “In fact, some grain carts will be operating without drivers in some Iowa fields during this fall’s harvest,” he added.

Paulsen staffers Sara Steever, Kristi Moss, Joanie Hess and Greg Guse attended the Summit held on the campus of Iowa State University.

“It was a very impressive group of experts that addressed the infrastructure needs of agriculture and rural communities,” said Joanie Hess, media coordinator. “I was shocked to learn from the Renville County (MN) Commissioner that it costs $1 million to repair one mile of road! When I think of the rural county I live in, I readily understand why our roads are in the shape they’re in,” she added.

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