U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, has announced that Northeast Community College will receive a $450,000 U.S. Department of Agriculture grant for an agricultural workforce training project.

Specifically, the grant will go to the following project at Northeast: Ruraltech+ Training Program to Boost IT and Cybersecurity Skills in the Agricultural Workforce. This project will provide students with the skills and tools to develop technical skills and credentials necessary to succeed in ag and tech-related jobs.

“This grant is an exciting federal investment that will connect Nebraska’s future ag and tech workforce with skills to succeed,” Fischer said. “I have had the pleasure of working closely with Northeast over the years on increasing adoption of precision agriculture technologies.

“I look forward to seeing this project come to fruition and create opportunities for our students.”

Leah Barrett, president of Northeast Community College, welcomed the grant.

“This funding is important to help increase the efficiency and productivity of food production, as well as to guard against cyberattacks targeting our nation’s food supply,” Barrett said. “We are proud to partner with agricultural cooperatives across Nebraska to grow their IT workforce and create pathways for entry-level workers as well as incumbent workers to upskill and get the critical skills they need to support our agricultural system.”

Precision agriculture is a wide range of new technologies in farming and ranching that can allow producers to reduce their environmental footprint, lower costs and improve productivity. Fischer has worked together with Northeast to promote and expand the use of precision agriculture.

She introduced the bipartisan Precision Agriculture Loan Act. It would create a program within the USDA to provide loan financing to farmers and ranchers interested in purchasing precision agriculture equipment.

Fischer also previously introduced bipartisan legislation that has passed the Senate to support research for better performance of advanced sensing systems and Internet of Things wireless technology in rural and agricultural areas. The research would specifically focus on improving device connectivity in rural and agricultural environments where communication networks and power often can be unreliable. A companion bill has passed the House of Representatives.

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