American Soybean Association (ASA) Washington staff has met with Jonathan Adelstein, Administrator of U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Utilities Service (RUS), on issues relating to possible interference with the Global Positioning System (GPS) units commonly used by farmers.

At issue is a conditional waiver granted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to allow LightSquared, a wireless broadband network, to build tens of thousands of ground stations that may cause interference to neighboring GPS signals.

Existing GPS receivers (including those built into almost every new cellphone) may be vulnerable to overload interference within several hundred meters of these base stations, with older receivers faring the worst.

Senators Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) have asked other senators to join them in a letter to the FCC asking that demonstrated non-interference be a condition prior to any operation of new ground stations.

The American Soybean Association (ASA) and other farm groups are working to garner support for the Senate letter and to bring farmers’ concerns to relevant executive branch agencies, like RUS.