Fast internet 'will be game changer' for the farming community
Farmers believe that fast internet access can be a "game changer" for the agricultural community.
A new pilot high-power broadband project has been launched in the community that played host to the National Ploughing Championships for three years in a row.
European Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan confirmed that Ratheniska, Co Laois, had been selected for the rural broadband pilot programme through an ESB-Vodafone joint venture, SIRO.
It is rolling out fibre-optic broadband network to 500,000 premises in 50 regional towns.
As he visited the 800-acre ploughing site, Mr Hogan said the provision of high-speed broadband for rural areas was a key objective across Europe.
"It is vital that the digital gap between urban and rural areas is closed as high-speed broadband connectivity is a major factor for the long-term sustainability of rural communities."
The Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) president Eddie Downey said it was a "game changer" in rural Ireland.
"Everything we do in farming now, you need to connect," he said.