In a filing with the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) International Bureau, the American Soybean Association (ASA) and other organizations representing farmers and agribusinesses in all 50 states today declared that “high-precision GPS technology is vitally important to American agriculture, and would be gravely harmed by LightSquared’s plans.”
In the petition, the groups urged the International Bureau “to adopt without delay” the bureau’s proposals to withdraw the conditional waiver it granted LightSquared and prohibit it from building a ground-based wireless network.
In addition to ASA, the petition was signed by the American Farm Bureau Federation, American Sugar Cane League, Association of Equipment Manufacturers, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Barley Growers Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, National Potato Council, National Sunflower Association, US Canola Association, USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council, and the USA Rice Federation.
The groups described the benefits of high-precision GPS to American agriculture as “immense and diverse,” saying that, “By enabling farmers to make precise applications for planting, irrigation and crop protection, GPS technology has been responsible for remarkable growth in productivity, farm income and improved environmental sustainability.” The petition cited an economic study that showed that precision GPS increased 2007-2010 crop yields by about $20 billion/year, the equivalent of nearly 12% of total annual production.
Citing numerous government studies of the interference LightSquared’s plans would cause, the petition stated, “It should now be utterly clear that LightSquared’s network would be incompatible with U.S. agriculture use of high precision GPS,” and that, “We remain strong supporters of expanded broadband access in rural America. However, expanded broadband access cannot come at the expense of degraded access to high precision GPS for U.S. farmers.”