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Cox Farm

Bringing Resources to Farmers

As regional vice president of agricultural lending at Farm Credit Mid-America, Natasha Cox spends her days helping farmers obtain the resources necessary to help fund their production agriculture operations. But her dedication to agriculture doesn’t stop there.

In addition to farming corn and soybeans with her husband, Brent, and his parents, Steve and Gena Cox, Natasha is increasingly spending her time advocating for the technological resources today’s farmers require to be successful.

Late-model tractors, application equipment and various agricultural implements are equipped with GPS, Bluetooth and other advanced technologies that often require internet access. The problem is that many areas of rural America lack high-speed broadband access.

As owners of Maple Island Farms near Benton County, Indiana, it’s a problem the Cox family knows well.

“Being able to have connectivity is critical for agriculture,” Natasha says. “Farmers have adopted technologies that improve efficiencies and sustainability, but then can’t get access to the high-speed internet needed to make everything work.”

That’s where her involvement with the Wabash Heartland Innovation Network comes in. The nonprofit network joins together Purdue University, Ivy Tech Community College and local economic development and community leaders from the greater Lafayette region.

“It’s about working together with state and federal funding to try to regionalize resources for our 10-county area and navigate the waters of broadband,” Natasha says. “One potential solution is to launch an Aerostat (a blimp-like aircraft) as a way to try to grab that last mile in our counties. It may be quicker than running the actual infrastructure, such as cables in the ground, to more quickly get high-speed internet to our rural communities.”

Broadband is a key component in economic development, including in agriculture.

“High-speed internet access helps us to be more efficient as farmers. It can also contribute to sustainability efforts and can help keep food affordable and abundant,” Natasha says. “These are hot topics on our farm. We are continuing to look toward the future as it pertains to climate and sustainability.”

Brent and Natasha and Brent were both raised on farms, and Steve and Gena have been farming the same land for more than 35 years. Brent’s brother, Ryan Cox, is also a member of both the family’s farming operation and its trucking business. His sister, Stefanie, and her husband, Trent Hall, farm near Wolcott, Indiana.

Each family member also has an off-farm career. Brent is a regional salesman for Wilson Trailer Co., Gena works at Purdue University and Steve runs a commodity trucking business.

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