Plaskett pushes for more rural broadband internet funding in Farm Bill

It’s been nearly one month since the Farm Bill expired. Right now, talks to pass a new one remains at a standstill during the campaign.

Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett (D-V.I.) is one of the 56 members of the House and Senate Conference Committee that will pick up negotiations when congress resumes Nov. 13, what’s considered as the biggest issue during the lame-duck session.

For Plaskett, there are some key issues both parties and both chambers still need to settle… notably, the proposed cuts to SNAP benefits and school lunch programs.

The federally assisted National School Lunch Program helps more than 30 million school students across the country each year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The delay in a new Farm Bill could also impact how farmers plan their 2019 crops and claim crop insurance, if needed. But U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said last week that the lack of a bill won’t affect farmers or snap recipients until January 1. Funding is appropriated until then, Perdue explained.

Meanwhile, there’s one piece of the proposed bill Plaskett is looking at: funding for rural broadband internet.

“It’s really for an ability for our farmers to connect, to really have cutting-edge technology as well as for students who are in school in rural areas, like the Virgin Islands, to be able to decrease the digital divide,” Plaskett said.

The Farm Bill has to be passed once every five years. Funding for this version is projected to be down roughly $90 billion from the 2013 version, according to the Congressional Budget Office.