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The government has been urged to support Britain's agricultural sector by stepping up investment in rural broadband.

According to the NFU, just four per cent of farmers in the UK currently have access to superfast broadband.

This, it said, is despite the fact that affordable and reliable connectivity is "essential" if they are to operate safe and efficient farms and comply with regulation.

The NFU also insisted that high-quality superfast broadband can help promote farm diversification and enable rural communities to enjoy family life.

The government has therefore been urged to put more resources towards boosting superfast broadband access in non-urban areas.

Guy Smith, Vice-President of the NFU, warned that poor access to broadband is a significant barrier to growth in the farming industry and said the status quo is "neither sustainable nor acceptable".

"The government is asking farmers to run their businesses in conditions that put them at an immediate disadvantage," he commented.

"We have heard of farmers waiting 15 hours to download a Countryside Stewardship guidance booklet; farmers can’t comply with increasingly online-only regulation and aren’t able to contact their customers."

Furthermore, Mr Smith said poor broadband provision means farmers are unable to "harness the brilliant range of agri-technology" that is currently available.

"To increase productivity you need superfast broadband, to get out of the farm office and into the field," he insisted.

Mr Smith went on to stress that without high-speed broadband, farmers who have diversified their businesses in order to support the wider rural economy will be unable to achieve this goal.

Furthermore, he said the farming industry needs superfast broadband infrastructure "to flourish and compete in increasingly globalised markets".

The NFU added that the government must stick to its pledge to make the UK the world's best connected country and create a system that actually addresses the rural market and boosts competition.

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