Bringing technology to the rural communities that need it to survive the pandemic and in the modern world that often moves forward without them
Beth Ford, CEO of the $15 billion farmer-owned cooperative Land O’Lakes, often sounds more like an activist than she does a Big Ag chief executive. On the latest episode of Fortune podcast "Leadership Next," Ford talks about her cause: bringing technology to the rural communities that need it to survive the pandemic and in the modern world that often moves forward without them.
Her entry point in that fight is addressing the need for broadband access in rural America. A third of rural schools lack broadband, she said, which affects everything from farmers’ work to children’s schooling to telemedicine visits. To bring access to these communities, Land O’Lakes and Microsoft are partnering up. Ford and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella believe they can improve things at the farm level using technology—and by teaming up with health care organizations, government officials at the local and federal levels, and other groups that care about the cause.