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.

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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