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America's 'Radical Elders' continue their work for fairness, justice; SCOTUS upholds law disarming domestic abusers; Workplace adoption benefits help families, communities; Report examines barriers to successful post-prison re-entry in NC.

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A congresswoman celebrates Biden protections for mixed status families, Louisiana's Ten Commandments law faces an inevitable legal challenge, and a senator moves to repeal the strict 19th century anti-obscenity and anti-abortion Comstock Act.

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Rural educators say they need support to teach kids social issues, rural businesses can suffer when dollar stores come to town, prairie states like South Dakota are getting help to protect grasslands and a Minnesota town claims the oldest rural Pride Festival.

Essential Roles for Broadband in Rural GA: A Catalyst for Farmers

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Wednesday, March 22, 2023   

In rural Georgia, hardworking farmers grapple with staying competitive in the global market, and some said they are hindered by limited broadband access.

The website BroadbandNow.com ranks Georgia 21st among states for affordable high-speed internet access, but wide swaths of the state are still without broadband service.

Susannah Cox Maddux, steering committee chair for the group Rural Voices Georgia, emphasized the need for enhanced connectivity. She said many in the ag industry still rely on satellite internet, because it is their only option.

"It's essential for farmers to follow commodity markets, to communicate with their customers, and to gain access to new markets around the world. I think often, people don't think about just how high-tech farming is. It is crucial."

In February, Gov. Brian Kemp unveiled a grant package of $455 million to help entice service providers to expand high-speed internet availability in 28 counties. Major providers have often said expansion into rural areas is not profitable enough.

At the end of 2021, the Georgia Tech Research Institute estimated 1.6 million people in the state still lacked high-speed internet access. Cox Maddux stressed the digital divide is one of the most pressing issues for rural communities, as they struggle to keep up with increasingly tech-driven business practices and maintain efficient operations.

"And we also know that without the continued effort to raise the profile around this issue -- and to raise our voices, and to raise awareness around this -- people can get left out, even though there are efforts being pushed," Cox Maddux explained.

She added the Rural Voices Georgia steering committee has made broadband access one of its top three public-policy priorities.


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