Nearly two-thirds (62%) of U.S. farms now have Internet access, compared with 59% in 2009, according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture titled “Farm Computer Usage and Ownership.”

DSL was the most common method of accessing the Internet, with 38% of U.S. farms using it–up from 36% in 2009.  The next most popular Internet access method was wireless (20%), followed by satellite (15%), dial-up (12%) and cable modem (11%). The 2009 numbers for those services were 13%, 13%, 23% and 11%, respectively.

The report was based on data gathered in the June Agricultural Survey, whose primary purpose is to estimate crop acres planted and the like. In odd-numbered years since 1997, the survey also has asked about access and use of computers, including questions about Internet access. This year’s survey drew more than 31,000 responses.

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Computer usage varies considerably by farm income, the survey found. In 2011, 84% of U.S. farms with sales and government payments of $250,000 or more have access to a computer, 83% own or lease a computer, 72% use a computer for their farm business and 82% have Internet access. But of farms with sales and government payments between $10,000 and $99,999, 63% reported having computer access, 62% own or lease a computer, 41% use a computer for their farm business, and 60% have Internet access.

Other notable findings:

  • Overall, farms using computers for their farm business remained virtually stable at 37% in 2011 compared to 36% in 2009.
  • The state with the highest percentage of farms that have Internet access is Oregon (80%) and the state with the lowest percentage of farms with Internet access is Mississippi (51%).
  • Fourteen percent of U.S. farms purchase agricultural inputs over the Internet and 12% conduct agricultural marketing activities over the Internet, while 7% use the Internet to access USDA/NASS reports, 13% use it to access other USDA reports and services and 14% use it to access other federal government web sites over the Internet.

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