Broadband Breakfast on April 3, 2024 – The Promise of Precision Agriculture

Efforts to enhance broadband connectivity on agricultural land are gaining momentum

Broadband Breakfast on April 3, 2024 – The Promise of Precision Agriculture

Reliable high-speed internet is crucial for unlocking the full potential of precision agriculture, which utilizes advanced technologies such as GPS, sensors, and data analytics to optimize farming practices. With significant broadband funding and opportunities across the nation, efforts to enhance broadband connectivity on agricultural land, spearheaded by the Federal Communications Commission's Precision Agriculture task force, are gaining momentum. How is the adoption of precision agriculture going? What promise does it hold for the future of farming and technology? How is it factored into ongoing broadband funding and deployment in rural areas?


  • Jim Cupples, Advisor, Precision Ag Connectivity & Accuracy Stakeholder Alliance
  • Laurel Leverrier, Assistant Administrator, Rural Utilities Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • Dennis Bowman, Extension Specialist for Digital Agriculture, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
  • Matt Schmit, Director, Illinois State Broadband Office
  • Todd Main, Director of Market Development, Illinois Soybean Association
  • Drew Clark (moderator), Editor and Publisher, Broadband Breakfast

Jim Cupples has been working with the ag community on technical projects since 2018. He frequently works with the Oregon State University engineering department to sponsor capstone projects that meet local farmers' needs, often resulting in prototypes. Jim is currently a fellow with the Economic Recovery Corps (a new program under the Department of Commerce) working on broadband infrastructure and grants in northeastern Washington State (Ferry, Stevens, and Pend Oreille counties).

Laurel Leverrier is the Assistant Administrator of the USDA’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS), Telecommunications Programs, where she oversees RUS’ $6 billion portfolio of telecommunications loans and grants. During her nineteen-year career at USDA, Laurel has served in a variety of positions and has participated on a number of federal working groups, including the American Broadband Initiative (ABI). Laurel is a graduate of American University’s Key Executive Leadership Program and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration and Economics from Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri.

Dennis Bowman, currently serves as the Extension Specialist for Digital Agriculture at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. With over four decades of experience in commercial agriculture education, Mr. Bowman has been at the forefront of integrating cutting-edge technology into farming practices. His extensive research and education portfolio spans a multitude of projects, with a significant focus on precision agriculture and the utilization of drones in agricultural research and crop scouting.

Matt Schmit currently serves as Director of the Illinois Office of Broadband, where integration of 21st century infrastructure and service delivery is a primary focus of his work and research. He previously held office as a senator in his home state of Minnesota, and has served on many legislative boards on broadband deployment, transportation policy & investment, and community & economic development. In addition, Mr. Schmit has served on the Cook County Council on Digital Equity (CODE), the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute (AURI) board, the Blandin Broadband Strategies board, the St John’s University Board of Regents, and the Legislative Water Commission; represented Minnesota on the National Conference of State Legislators Nuclear Energy Work Group and Commerce Committee; and was an active member of the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators and State Ag and Rural Leaders.

In his role as the Director of Market Development for the Illinois Soybean Association (ISA), Todd Main develops new strategies in support of ISA’s goals in trade, animal agriculture, transportation and logistics, new uses for soy, biodiesel and human nutrition, while also monitoring opportunities to increase the market share of soy in existing and new markets. Main has more than 20 years of experience in leading initiatives to develop support for sustainable public policies. He is a trusted policy advisor to leaders in business, non-profits, governments and foundations, as well as candidates for public office, including extended assignments in Washington D.C., the Great Lakes region, and the Southwestern U.S. 

Breakfast Media LLC CEO Drew Clark has led the Broadband Breakfast community since 2008. An early proponent of better broadband, better lives, he initially founded the Broadband Census crowdsourcing campaign for broadband data. As Editor and Publisher, Clark presides over the leading media company advocating for higher-capacity internet everywhere through topical, timely and intelligent coverage. Clark also served as head of the Partnership for a Connected Illinois, a state broadband initiative.

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