rural broadbandThe Internet is becoming increasingly important to U.S. farmers, according to a report issued this week from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Nearly 70% of farms currently have Internet access – up from 67% in 2013 and from about 57% in 2007, according to the USDA.

The number of farmers that own or lease computers has tracked quite closely with Internet access since 2007, with 71% of farmers now falling into that category, said the USDA in the report titled “Farm Computer Usage and Ownership (August 2015).”

Source: USDAs Farm Computer Usage and Ownership Report
Source: USDAs Farm Computer Usage and Ownership Report

Not all farmers use their computer for farm business. Only forty-three percent of respondents said they do so. But the number is on the rise – climbing from about 35% in 2007 and from 40% in 2013.

Farm Internet Usage
Among those farmers who use their computer for farm business, the most popular use was conducting business with non-agricultural websites, cited by 44% of respondents.

Other popular uses were:

  • Purchasing agricultural products (19%)
  • Accessing USDA reports/services other than USDA-NASS reports (17%)
  • Accessing other federal government websites (17%)
  • Marketing activities (16%)

Less commonly cited uses were:

  • Accessing USDA-NASS reports (10%)
  • Conducting business with any USDA website (9%)
  • Conducting business with any other federal government website (7%)

The 30-page report contains a wealth of data that farmers – or service providers serving farmers — can use to compare themselves with their peers. Among other things, the USDA breaks down results by income levels, by geographic region and by the type of crop grown.

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