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Hassan Says Rollback of Net Neutrality Rules Could Hurt N.H.’s Dairy Farmers

Robert Garrova for NHPR
Sen. Maggie Hassan hears from employees of Stonyfield Farms and members of New England's farming community about how the repeal of net neutrality rules would affect their business

Senator Maggie Hassan met with employees of New Hampshire-based organic yogurt-maker Stonyfield Farm Monday. The company voiced concerns over the FCC's decision to end ‘net neutrality’ rules.

Representatives from Stonyfield are worried, among other things, that Internet Service Providers could start charging more for access to some websites and services.

Britt Lundgren is Stonyfield's Director of Organic and Sustainable Agriculture. She says small dairy farmers her company works with rely on affordable Internet service to manage records and access markets. "They need that technology to manage their business, just the same way that a startup in Silicon Valley needs that technology,” Lundgren said.

"If farmers, who are operating on pretty small margins, now have to pay even more to get the kind of speed on the Internet that they need to be competitive, this could really be debilitating to them,” Hassan said.

Local New England farmers also voiced concerns about a general lack of broadband infrastructure in rural areas. “For a small business like mine - and I think probably many of the small farms that Stonyfield is sourcing milk from - everything is internet-based now,” said Roger Noonan, President of the New England Farmers Union.

Hassan says a group of 50 Senators is in favor of a measure that would reinstate net neutrality rules and a vote could come as soon as Wednesday. Hassan says she's hearing from thousands of constituents who are in support of restoring the regulations.

Adopted in December of 2017, the FCC says the rollback of net neutrality rules is set to take effect next month. “On June 11, we will have a framework in place that encourages innovation and investment in our nation’s networks so that all Americans, no matter where they live, can have access to better, cheaper, and faster Internet access and the jobs, opportunities, and platform for free expression that it provides,” said FCC Chairman AjitPai in a recent statement.

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