The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced Feb. 14 its decision to block the planned development of a nationwide wireless network by communications company LightSquared over concerns that it cannot be fixed to coexist with global positioning systems (GPS).

The American Soybean Association (ASA) has been at the forefront of the discussion of this planned network’s significant and adverse effects on farmers.

ASA President and Syracuse, Neb.-based soybean farmer Steve Wellman issued the following statement on the FCC’s decision:

“Tuesday’s decision by the FCC is certainly a great relief for more than 600,000 soybean farmers across the country who use GPS technology to precision-apply seed and fertilizer; to test fields for fertility and to monitor yields; to reduce chemical and fuel use; and to map field boundaries, roads, irrigation systems.

“In short, GPS technology has enabled farmers to produce more food for a growing world population with fewer inputs.

“Farmers invest thousands of dollars in high-precision GPS equipment and applications to run more efficient, sustainable, cost-effective and productive farms. The LightSquared network would have rendered that investment — not to mention the consumer GPS market projected to reach almost $29 billion in the U.S. by 2015 — all but useless.

(There are many examples of how precision agriculture is impacting farming. Read about examples at http://southeastfarmpress.com/equipment/gps-helps-boost-productivity-expand-operations. Additional information can be found at http://southeastfarmpress.com/equipment/precision-farming-saving-money. And not only are row crop farming adopting precision agriculture in a big way, cattlemen are also finding it useful. Read about that concept at http://southeastfarmpress.com/equipment/gps-cattlemen-too).

“The FCC’s decision this week is one that is in the best interests of both the American farmer and the American consumer.

“LightSquared’s efforts do, however, underscore the pressing need for better broadband service, especially in rural America.

“ASA supports the pursuit of a commercial solution that will better connect the rural communities in which agriculture thrives, while protecting the value of precision agricultural GPS systems.”