By Julie Tomascik

Loading. Loading. Loading. Oh, wait. Disconnected.

For many in rural Texas and in rural areas across the nation, it’s an all too familiar feeling when trying to stream content, check email or upload files.

It’s been said the internet is just a rumor in some parts of remote Texas.

Once considered a luxury, broadband is now essential. It’s vital to information, education, marketing, security and other important parts of daily life. The internet is about connecting with virtually everything.

But Federal Communications Commission data show that 17 percent of rural Americans lack access to broadband, compared to only 1 percent of urban Americans.

That may be a silver lining to the coronavirus pandemic, though. We’ve always known broadband connectivity was essential to modern life. But because of COVID-19, the issue was highlighted across Texas and the country.

But broadband access isn’t just for online learning.

It’s important for tele-medicine and for those who have jobs off the farm but live in rural America.

It’s important for staying connected with friends and family, for placing an online grocery order. for marketing products and for access to government services.

And it’s important for farmers and ranchers.

Because broadband allows farmers to be more sustainable and efficient with the latest technology. It allows them to implement even more economical and environmentally-friendly practices, as well as access new markets and communicate with customers.

Access to broadband is key to all of those aspects.

Rural connectivity is a priority issue for Texas Farm Bureau during the 88th Texas Legislature, which convened Jan. 10. The goal is to implement legislation to expand broadband and cellular access to provide more opportunity in rural areas across the state. Because the need for broadband connectivity in rural areas is essential.

I’m hopeful that one day, high-speed, uninterrupted connections will really exist in the state and rural Texans won’t be left forever buffering.

Because whoever said patience is one of the keys to success must never have experienced a slow internet connection.