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From the editor: Farming's big digital debate heard among political animals

AS Jeremy Corbyn’s allies and detractors gathered in Liverpool for the Labour Party conference, hushed conversations took place in different corners about the future of the party.

AS Jeremy Corbyn’s allies and detractors gathered in Liverpool for the Labour Party conference, hushed conversations took place in different corners about the future of the party.

 

In among all the political scheming, the Countryside Alliance set out its stall for the needs of those in rural areas regarding broadband access and skills required to use the web.

 

As young political animals typed away furiously on laptops, iPads and smartphones, the panel, which I was on, turned its attention to the realities of internet use in rural areas and how, access apart, the biggest stumbling block can be the fear factor new technology instills in some users.

 

Farming faces a curious challenge on this front. Machinery and metal are no longer the ceiling for innovation in the industry, rather farm work is being revolutionised by satellite navigation systems and a level of connectivity which can allow data to be shared to other devices around the farm as efficiency is constantly strived for.

 

Yet while this represents the forefront of technological thinking, there are many, many more who find the prospect of trying to use a laptop or tablet computer terrifying.

 

In a world which is becoming more reliant on web-based systems to drive businesses and communities forward, there is a real danger rural areas could leave behind those not signed up to the digital revolution.

 

With some striving ahead and others being left behind on this technological frontier, there is a risk of yet more haves and have nots within agriculture.

 

The challenge for the industry and its communities is firstly to ensure that fast broadband reaches the mainly rural parts of the UK it still does not get to. The next challenge is to then ensure all parts of the community can use it with confidence and make the most of it when they can.

 

Simply leaving behind certain parts of our rural communities could damage the rural social fabric and hinder the development of many more traditional farm businesses.

 

And finally...

 

With a definite autumnal enveloping many parts of the UK, make sure you keep an eye on www.farmersweather.co.uk for all the latest reports.


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More needs to be done to tackle the rural digital divide More needs to be done to tackle the rural digital divide

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