A study from the University of Missouri’s Community Policy Analysis Center (CPAC) says the state is significantly behind national averages for statewide broadband services. That deficiency could be hurting the state’s number one industry, agriculture.

Tim Haithcoat is with the University’s Geographic Resources Center and the lead on Missouri Broadband Mapping and Planning. He says the study found a difference between counties with more broadband coverage and less, in how agribusinesses in those counties were impacted. Those with high-speed access enjoyed greater profitability.

Agribusinesses also provided input in the study. Of those, 60 percent were dissatisfied with internet connection speeds.

Governor Jay Nixon’s “MO Broadband Now” Initiative has already invested $311 million to expand broadband access in the state. Haithcoat says redirecting money from the federal Universal Service Fund could compliment efforts under the Initiative. He says the advantage to using that fund is that it is already established and collected, and used to support other rural development efforts.

Haithcoat notes, providers are challenged to provide broadband service in many of the rural areas where gaps were found. Those areas often are marked by income levels that are low or are spread out across a broad area. Once service is established, providers must make periodic investments to offer service that meets customers’ ever-increasing demand for higher speeds and more coverage.

Visit the Community Policy Analysis Center here.