Investment to improve digital connectivity in rural areas will open up opportunities for food producing businesses and ensure they can play their full part in the government’s green growth ambition, the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) said today (June 25).

Responding to the government’s consultation on access to broadband in hard to reach areas, NFU deputy president Stuart Roberts said:

“Good internet connections are so important for a whole range of tasks on the farm – everything from banking to managing suppliers and logistics – as well as for health and well-being.

However, for our members, poor connectivity is a huge issue. Many tell us they still don’t have adequate fast and reliable broadband in order to run a modern-day farming business and it’s putting a huge drain on time and efficiency.

“Investment in rural Britain not only brings about obvious benefits to food production but can have massive benefits for the whole country.

“It’s vital the government’s levelling up agenda also focuses on rural Britain and puts farmers in a position to be able to run modern businesses which are increasingly reliant on decent broadband.

“This then delivers back to the wider rural economy creating jobs and boosting economic growth,” he added.

A wider application of alternative broadband solutions, that can deliver good to average connection speeds for these very hard to reach rural areas, should be a priority.

“We also hope the government and the telecommunications industry will aim for total gigabit coverage in the future.

“We will continue working with stakeholders within the Agricultural Productivity Task Force and others to campaign for investment in the country’s digital infrastructure so that farm businesses can meet their huge potential; not only by increasing their productivity as food producers but in helping to tackle climate change and delivering on our net zero ambitions,” he concluded.