British farmers deserve internet that is faster and more reliable

Aled Evans, Young Farmer, Wales

All case studies reflect the views of the individual and business featured in the case study only.

Farming is one of the most important industries in the UK and yet slow and unreliable internet is a massive issue for those living in rural and farming communities. According to the National Farmers Union (NFU), just four per cent of farmers in Britain currently have access to superfast broadband, with a great many experiencing painfully slow broadband, it’s putting farmers at a real disadvantage.

Aled Evans is a 29 year old farmer from Wales. For Aled and his family the internet is more important than ever before. Rural farming communities need access to the internet as most of the paperwork is now completed online. Aled says the online only world should be an innovative step for the farming industry. However, he thinks there are two main problems: poor rural broadband connections and the older generation farmers are not as technology savvy as younger farmers.

The farming industry is evolving and farmers like Aled need faster and more reliable connections to update cattle movement registrations, search for machinery, and of course, to check the weather. Aled says, “There’s a huge range of technology available that we’re not being able to make the most of. Even simple tasks like searching for new machinery online or downloading the latest information on produce prices can become a frustrating task as the internet connection drops in and out.”

Aled says poor broadband connection can potentially damage farms. If dairy farmers are unable to get access to a reliable broadband connection, they can’t access their milk quality results online. If they can’t access these farmers run the risk of contaminating their bulk milk tank with low equality milk, and could then incur financial penalties. Also, day to day buying and selling is important to view online as the live market for grain and feed prices vary daily: it is crucial to make sure you’re buying and selling at optimum times.

With more and more farmers diversifying into the food, drink and tourism industry, having a high quality internet connection is becoming absolutely crucial for this new business growth. Aled has recently started a manufacturing business, making small timber cabins for general sale and to use on the farm as a holiday retreat for families. Aled says, “Being online is important for everything from market research, materials sourcing, pricing and purchasing. You need to advertise online for both unit sales of the cabins and holiday retreats. Without the internet it would be almost impossible to get the business off the ground.”

Even when not at work on the farm, Aled is still unable to have the same experiences as young people in other towns and cities. Having a poor connection in rural Wales means he can’t watch videos on YouTube, catch up with TV shows, or even receive Whatsapp messages from friends and family.

British farmers deserve internet that is faster and more reliable. So now is the opportunity to write to Ofcom and ask for their help to Fix Britain’s Internet.