Computers and access to the internet continue to be crucial for farmers, according to the latest "Farm Computer Usage & Ownership" report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.
Nationally, 73% of farms have computer access. Of those farmers with computer access, 72% own or lease a computer, up 1% from 2015.
Computer usage for farm business was at 47% nationally, up four percentage points from 2015. This usage by four geographic regions was: 49% in the West, 50% in the North Central, 48% in the Northeast and 42% in the South. A new question in 2017 found that 39% of producers nationally use a tablet or smartphone for their farm business.
Farmers also continue to use the internet as part of doing business. Comparing computer usage by crop and livestock farms nationally, 52% of crop producers reported that they use the computer for farm business, compared to 42% of livestock producers.
The survey found that 25% of crop farms purchased agricultural inputs over the internet, compared to 21% of livestock farms. This is up 5% for both crop and livestock farms from 2015. In addition, 21% of crop farms conduct agricultural marketing activities over the internet.
An estimated 71% of farms in the U.S. have internet access. The highest percentage of farms accessing the internet is in the West.
Eight percent of farms use fiber-optic and 17% use mobile internet service. However, DSL (digital subscriber line) connection continues to be the most common method of accessing the internet, with 29% of the farms in the U.S. using DSL, down slightly from 30% in 2015.
Use of a satellite connection, at 21%, remained steady with 2015. Other reported methods of accessing the internet include cable modem service, dial-up service and "other" or "don’t know." Cable modem service use is at 15%, up three percentage points from 2015. Dial-up service use is at 2%, down one percentage point from 2015. Eight percent report using other or unknown access, up three percentage points from 2015.