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Farmers Need You to Support Net Neutrality

The relationships of farmers and eaters in our local sustainable agriculture economy often starts on and/or is nurtured on the internet. The FCC is voting Dec. 14th on its proposal to repeal “net neutrality” and we are deeply concerned it will cause harm to hundreds of farmers and thousands of eaters we serve. Please call your representatives in Congress today!! In particular, small rural farm businesses and nonprofits like ours will be impacted if Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are allowed to determine what content you view and what you can distribute and at what speed. Indeed, since our small nonprofit is located in a rural area with one internet provider, the new rule is highly likely to harm our ability to communicate with you. We join with everyone from the National Farmers Union to the American Librarian Association to encourage you to call your Congressional representatives and the FCC before Dec. 14th to support net neutrality and oppose the FCC rule change. (See NFU urges FCC to protect Net Neutrality, and ALA urges Congress to protect Net Neutrality.)

What is Net Neutrality?

Net neutrality is the idea that the internet should be regulated like a utility platform, with equal access to all, not like a provider of digital content (ie, TV programs) where the vender determines who gets what content and at what price. Just like your phone company can’t tell you who you can call, nor what to say, internet providers shouldn’t be able to direct users only to the platforms they like or determine whether or not your site should be seen.

The repeal of net neutrality would make it legal for internet providers like Comcast, Verizon or AT&T to discriminate what content reaches you (based on who pays more), and favor wealthier companies with higher speeds (and louder voice), and relegate everyone else (like small farms, eaters, and us!) to slower speeds (and less voice).

How Does this Impact Angelic Organics Learning Center?

This imminent policy change impacts us for at least 3 reasons. Firstly, it affects the farmers and eaters in communities we are dedicated to serving. Secondly, it undermines AOLC’s mission to regenerate agriculture with a quadruple bottom line and our ability to join hands with related civil rights movements. Lastly, it affects our organization’s ability to operate day to day.

Farmers and eaters in our local sustainable agriculture economy are often connected through the internet. We serve a lot of farmers in rural areas that have access to just one internet provider. ISP companies will be free to charge higher fees, change speed, and limit content, and consumers will have little or no recourse. Farming is already an uneven playing field for small family farms in comparison to large agribusinesses. Adding extra fees tilts it even further towards industrial farms. Small farms and lower income consumers will have a harder time accessing information, like what AOLC provides, and will be faced with higher costs for high speed internet. You can read more about how this repeal would affect rural communities here.

AOLC aims to regenerate agriculture with a quadruple bottom line. Rather than focus solely on profit, we model farms that create interrelated benefit flows that support economy, ecology, equity, and expression (culture). As such, our farms not only connect farmers and eaters, but intersect with related social, cultural, ecological and economic movements. Our peers in these movements are speaking out in favor of net neutrality and working to build bridges with the good food movement. Civil Eats, a daily news source on the American food system, has multiple articles about this intersectionality, including excellent pieces by Ricardo Salvador, Mark Bittman, and others here and here.

At Angelic Organics Learning Center, we operate workshops and classes on our rural home farm, urban training farms, and peer farms that help us educate both farmers and eaters. We sell farm products like pastured meats, goat milk soap and shares in a youth-led CSA farm located in the Rockford housing authority. We offer summer farm camps and programs that immerse youth, adults and families in the life of our vibrant working farm. We use the internet to market and connect youth and adults to these transformational programs and quality farm products. A large portion of our revenue comes to us via the internet. The internet is a tool we use every day to realize our mission and programs. Like many rural locations, we have one internet provider. Repealing net neutrality would undermine our ability to offer learning experiences, provide opportunities to grow, and connect eaters and farmers to regenerate agriculture. Repealing net neutrality would undermine our ability to generate revenue to support this mission and our programs.

What You Can Do.

The FCC is voting on net neutrality on December 14th. You can find out more about the issue and see where your representatives stand at Battle for the Net.

Here’s what you can do today:

  1. Please call your Congressional representatives today (202) 225-3121 and ask that they block the FCC’s proposal to end net neutrality.  

  2. Please call Ajit Pai, FCC Chairman, at 202-418-1000 and share the same. If you’d like a helpful script to adapt for your calls, you can find it at 5 Calls.

  3. Email the FCC. On a computer, go to www.fcc.gov/ecfs/filings/express .  Under “Proceeding,” enter 17-108.  In comments, say: “I support Title 2 oversight of ISPs, and I support net neutrality.” 

 

Thank you!

Tom Spaulding