USDA Admin Berke talks broadband demand, Farm Bill, and ReConnect program
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has a major hand in broadband matters. The agency's Rural Utilities Service (RUS) is responsible for overseeing a number of rural broadband funding programs, including the well-known multi-billion-dollar ReConnect loan and grant initiative. Andrew Berke has only recently taken the reigns as RUS Administrator, having been appointed by President Biden in October 2022. That means he's now in charge at a critical juncture for rural connectivity, as billions in federal funding from other broadband programs like the $42.5 billion Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) Program flows into the industry. Fierce spoke with Berke to get a better handle on how the USDA came to be involved in broadband, how its programs are unique, what kind of broadband demand its seeing in rural America and what the forthcoming Farm Bill update could mean for its programs.
USDA Admin Berke talks broadband demand, Farm Bill, ReConnect