USDA report shows increasing internet access on farms

Crop growers more likely than livestock producers to use computers for farm business operations.

Seventy percent of U.S. farms and ranches now have access to internet, up 3% from 2013, according to the "Computer Usage & Ownership" report, released Aug. 19 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service.

The digital subscriber line (DSL) remained the most popular method for accessing internet, accounting for 30% of all farms and ranches with internet access. Despite remaining in the lead, however, DSL access is down 5%, from the 35% of farms that used this method in 2013.

In contrast, wireless connection, which accounts for 29%, and satellite connection, which accounts for 21% of the U.S. total, showed significant growth in the past two years. Share of farms using these two methods went up 5% and 4%, respectively.

According to the report, 43% of U.S. farms use computers for their business operations. Crop growers, at 47%, are more likely than livestock producers to use computers for business. In the livestock sector, 39% of producers use computers for business.

Farmers' and ranchers' business computer uses include:

* Conducting business with a non-agricultural website — 44%;

* 44% — Accessing federal government websites — 44%;

* 19% — Purchasing agricultural inputs — 19%, and

* 16% — Marketing activities — 16%.

Farmers in the western states are most likely to use computers for business. In that region, 48% of all farms use computers for that purpose. The western region was closely followed by the North Central and Northeast states, where 46% and 45% of all farms followed this practice. Southern states have the lowest percentage in this category. In that region 36% of all farms use internet to conduct business.

The "Computer Usage & Ownership" report is published biennially and is available online at www.nass.usda.gov.

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