Poor broadband ‘holding back’ business for Welsh farmers

At a meeting of the NFU Cymru’s rural affairs board last week, farm leaders called for more to be done to bring better broadband to rural areas. A lack of reliable internet connectivity is “holding back” Welsh farmers’ businesses, members said.

Chairman Hedd Pugh said it was frustrating for those living in rural areas, given that they pay the same price for basic broadband and mobile contracts as those in urban areas but often get poorer service.

A lot of farmers have also allowed their land to be used for things like mobile masts to help networks along - but often, they don't see any improved signal themselves.

With agricultural businesses relying more and more on the internet, websites, and apps, it's starting to get pretty tough out there, Pugh says.

He commented: "We know of several examples from across Wales where farmers have invested in new technology on farm, but because so much of this technology is dependent on broadband, they are unable to take advantage of the benefits of this investment.

"More needs to be done to ensure that those living rurally are not disadvantaged by their locations - particularly as many services, including agricultural support, are now being moved exclusively online."

Recently, Wales got an extra £400 million towards broadband rollouts, and the Farmers' Union of Wales stressed that "urgent attention" ought to be given to rural communities. This rural affairs board meeting only emphasises that.

Rural campaigners also feel optimistic about the separation of BT and Openreach, believing it may result in a better infrastructure and more choice… but they're not holding their breath.

"The proposal to separate BT and Openreach could lead to greater competition," said Sarah Lee of the Countryside Alliance, "but it is going to take several years… Communities which are receiving a poor level of service need connectivity now."

Source: Farmers Weekly

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