Farming businesses lobby government for digital connectivity improvements

Image credit: iStock/Kim_white

A leading farming union has called on the government to make the digital economy "universal".

According to the NFU, just 16 per cent of its members have a reliable indoor mobile signal, even though more than 90 per cent believe a reliable signal is important for their business.

Similarly, nearly 60 per cent of NFU members believe their broadband speed is not sufficient.

The NFU has therefore called on the government to address the disparity between rural and urban areas when it comes to digital connectivity.

Stuart Roberts, vice-president of the body, believes this is important to ensure every farming business can access superfast broadband at an affordable cost.

"In an increasingly technological world, farmers are relying more and more on broadband and mobile signal to run their businesses," he commented.

Mr Roberts pointed out that the UK ranks just 35th in the world for average broadband speed and 41st for 4G coverage.

This, he said, demonstrates why the government needs to "up its game in bringing rural areas up to scratch".

Mr Roberts added that farmers and growers need access to reliable broadband and mobile services "more than ever", in order to remain "competitive, productive and innovative in a digital age".

The government has already acknowledged connectivity issues in rural locations, with environment secretary Michael Gove telling this year's NFU Farming Conference it is "unjustifiable" that broadband provision is "so patchy and poor in so many areas".