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Farm Broadcasters Ask Stabenow for Help to Protect AM Radio

NAFB says in rural America, AM can be a literal lifeline in emergencies

Farm broadcasters are taking their concerns about AM radio to Capitol Hill.

The board of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting wrote to Sen. Debbie Stabenow, chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee. They cited the decision by at least eight carmakers to remove AM reception from electric vehicles and Ford’s move to take AM out of all new non-commercial vehicles beginning next year.

“Removing AM radio from vehicles will put into serious jeopardy an important lifeline and source of information to rural America, not just during times of emergency events but every single day,” they told Stabenow.

The group said farm broadcasters continue to provide invaluable service to producers and the agricultural community.

NAFB said that of the approximately 4,470 AM stations in the United States, about 1,500 provide at least some agriculture programming. In rural America, they said, AM radio is critical for people without reliable cellular or broadband access.

“Farmers in the field and on rural roadways, not connected to cellular or broadband, also turn to AM radio for the latest weather updates, crop reports, local information and entertainment.”

They said that for farmers and ranchers, radio continues to be the primary source of daily agricultural news.

“In fact, on average, ag radio consumers are listening for at least one hour on a typical weekday; more than 76% listen to the radio for agriculture markets, news, weather and other information more than five days a week. Listeners to ag radio consistently rate their farm broadcasters high in credibility, accuracy and timeliness for information.”

The broadcasters noted that rural areas are subject to extreme weather conditions, and that when power and cell service go out, “AM radio becomes a literal lifeline for rural Americans. As the backbone of the Emergency Alert System, the car radio often is the only way for people to get information, sometimes for days at a time.”

They asked Stabenow to “help us convey to auto manufacturers the importance of AM broadcast radio to America’s farmers and Americans living in rural communities across the United States.”