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VIDEO: At Missouri State Fair, Blunt Highlights Need to Expand Rural Broadband

August 17, 2017

WASHINGTON – During a press conference at the Missouri State Fair, U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.) underscored the need to expand high speed broadband in rural areas, citing its impact on small businesses, telemedicine, and agriculture. Blunt was joined by Missouri Governor Eric Greitens, Missouri Farm Bureau President Blake Hurst, University of Missouri Vice Chancellor for Extension and Engagement Marshall Stewart, CEO of the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives Barry Hart, and President of the Missouri Telecommunication Association Ric Telthorst.

Earlier this month, Blunt spoke on the Senate floor to recognize August as “Rural Broadband Month” and highlight the importance of expanding high-speed internet to rural Missouri.

Following are key excerpts from Blunt’s Press Conference:

“This is a critically important issue for our ability to compete. The governor and I were just at an event a few minutes ago and we talked about what can and will happen with Missouri agriculture and how it drives the economy, but jobs in outstate Missouri, the ability to compete in outstate Missouri, critically important to how we get connected to the rest of the world in ways that people in the room understand maybe better than people immediately on the other side of the cameras. …

“About 39 percent of the people in rural America don’t have access to broadband. Blake Hurst just mentioned, in our state it’s about two-thirds of people in rural Missouri don’t have access to broadband. Then that new statistic that I just heard today was 70 percent of the people that do have access have concerns about the access they have. …

“[W]hether it’s selling a locally made product or competing in a worldwide economy, this is important. I also mentioned schools and telemedicine. Telemedicine really works. It works in behavioral health. It works in that emergency room setting, where suddenly you’re suddenly linked up to all kinds of access you wouldn’t have otherwise. This should be one of our top priorities.”

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