By Kay Shipman
Illinois is investing $420 million in a statewide broadband initiative. Illinois Farm Bureau, part of the state Broadband Advisory Council, supports investments to improve broadband services, but not sacrificing private property rights, according to IFB’s council representative.
“IFB is pleased with the opportunity to have additional investments to improve broadband services. As part of the advisory council discussions, IFB is advocating for balancing the investment to improve rural broadband service with the protection of property rights,” said Bill Bodine, IFB director of business and regulatory affairs.
All factors, especially the impact on private property owners, need to be considered during discussion of projects, Bodine said.
Broadband funding was included in the capital bill. The main goals for the broadband initiative’s three focus areas include increasing access to telemedicine, increasing access for elementary, middle and high schools, and expanding economic development with support for agricultural and information technology sectors.
IFB has long worked to balance farming and property rights with utility projects. “We (IFB) hear a lot about challenges installing telecommunications equipment,” Bodine noted. Damage has happened when a telecommunications company has installed equipment without considering the landowner’s rights.
“We are hopeful any broadband project going forward will recognize that, in many cases, landowners may own the road rights of way. Easements must be sought from those landowners, and any damages that might occur as a result of installation must be repaired,” Bodine added.
In the past, farmers have reported installations damaged drainage tiles, soils and crops, and limited access to fields.
The advisory council has met regularly since mid-August and will continue meeting to have recommendations prepared by the end of the year, Bodine said.
“These projects can have long-term impacts on a farm’s productive capability and a farmer’s ability to farm,” he concluded.
Content for this story was provided by FarmWeekNow.com.