The candidates for Indiana Lt. Governor discussed agriculture issues at a debate sponsored by AgriInstitute Wednesday. Suzanne Crouch is the current Lt. Governor and the Republican on the ballot. In her position she oversees the State Department of Agriculture and the Office of Community and Rural Affairs, hence the focus on agriculture for this debate and others in past general election cycles.
Hoosier Ag Today’s Gary Truitt was among those questioning all three candidates, and his question on broadband was first up. He said Covid19 has highlighted inadequacies in broadband coverage in many communities.
“How should the state address this and fund bringing real progress in broadband to rural communities across the state of Indiana?” he asked.
First to respond was Linda Lawson, Democrat LG candidate.
“I know that the Holcomb administration has done a lot of work over the last few years, but for me it’s a day late and a dollar short,” she said. “I mean I have missed opportunities just because I cannot get on the internet. My neighbors can’t, and we need it desperately. We also need things like telehealth because we need to be able to help farmers. We need to be able to make sure that they’re insured and able to get to a doctor’s appointment. If they can’t they need to be able to do telehealth.”
Libertarian candidate William Henry did touch on one area that could be addressed to improve access.
“I think that we can possibly reduce some of these regulations for some of these coops that are laying some of this broadband out, and if we do that we can give them some relief to be able to put more out quickly and cover a lot more area,” Henry said. “They’re doing a really good job, and we need to encourage that and continue that.”
Incumbent Crouch cited the Governor Holcomb record on broadband investments and grants.
“We know that access to fast, affordable, reliable broadband affects workforce, health care, education economic development, quality of life and much more,” she said. “We have already awarded $28 million in grants which has then ended up being a total of $51 million investment with the private sector with 14 projects connecting 11,000 Hoosiers in 18 counties. We are now in the second round and hope to have an announcement here in September. But that is just the beginning. We are never going to be able to realize our full potential without having the ability to connect Hoosiers.”
Hemp and livestock production and conservation were also discussed during the #lg2020debate, and you can watch the free replay at Walton Webcasting.