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USDA: More farmers getting online, and faster

Agriculture.com Staff 08/10/2007 @ 2:18pm

In the last two years, the number of farmers utilizing high-speed Internet connections has doubled, according to a USDA-NASS report released Friday.

The Farm Computer Usage and Ownership report tallies the number of farmers who own or have access to computers and shows how both computers and Internet access are used on the farm. In general, Internet use among farmers has seen a steady increase over the last two years.

"A total of 55% of U.S. farms now have Internet access, compared with 51% in 2005. Sixty-three percent of farms have access to a computer in 2007, compared with the 2005 level of 59%," according to Friday's report. "The proportion of U.S. farms owning or leasing a computer in 2007, at 59%, is up slightly from 55% in 2005. Farms using computers for their farm business increased three percentage points from 2005 to 35% in 2007."

Friday's report shows a growing transition from dial-up connections to DSL: In 2005, 69% of those farmers surveyed for the USDA report said they used dial-up, while 13% said they had access to a DSL connection. The number of farmers with dial-up connections dropped by 22%, while the number with DSL connections more than doubled to 27%.

"High-speed Internet access methods, such as DSL, cable, satellite and wireless, have become much more available to Internet users in the farm sector since 2005. The proportion of operators using DSL doubled in 2007, at 27%, compared with the 2005 level of 13%," according to Friday's report. "Cable, satellite and wireless were each reported as the primary access methods on seven percent of those U.S. farms with Internet access; with satellite and wireless methods both at virtually double their 2005 levels."

A less dramatic, but steady rise in the use of the Internet as a means to purchase age inputs and conduct marketing is also noted in Friday's computer usage report. In 2003, eight percent of farmers made ag input purchases online, compared to 11% today. Similarly, 10% of farmers with Internet access conduct ag marketing on the Web today, up from eight percent four years ago.

In the last two years, the number of farmers utilizing high-speed Internet connections has doubled, according to a USDA-NASS report released Friday.

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