The Internet's Not Just For City Folks - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
Infrastructure

The Internet's Not Just For City Folks

Nearly half of the nation's 2 million farms are connected to the Internet, according to the USDA--more than triple the number in 1997.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Nearly half of the 2 million farms in the United States are connected to the Internet, more than triple the number in 1997, an Agriculture Department survey says.

This year, 48 percent of farms have Internet access, a leap from the 13 percent that were online in 1997, the department said Tuesday. It's a slight increase from 2001, when 43 percent were online. The survey is conducted every two years.

Department officials said that growth is slowing now, partly because some farmers are unwilling to rely on it to help them run their business.

"A lot of them don't trust computers," said Mark Aitken, an Agriculture Department statistician. "I think there's still a lot of your smaller farms out there that basically do their bookkeeping in a shoe box under the bed."

The survey, based on responses from 26,400 farms nationwide, found that 54 percent of all farms own or rent computers.

Among them are Arleen Herring and her husband, Wayne. The Herrings farm 600 acres in Elsberry, Mo., where they grow wheat and raise 120 beef cattle and 1,500 hogs. They bought a computer in 1995, but didn't begin paying for Internet service until nearly two years ago.

It changed their approach to farming, said Arleen Herring, 62. Rather than depend on the 12 o'clock local news or the radio, they surf the Web for market information.

"When he's got the wheat all in the bin, he starts watching the markets on the Internet, wants to know which direction it will go and when to sell," Herring said of her husband. "Farmers need every edge they can get."

Matthew Bennett is a policy director for the advocacy group, Alliance for Public Technology. He said that while more and more farmers can get online, the government should focus on installing broadband--a fast connection made through cable or satellites.

Right now, he said, many farmers can only link to the Internet through phone lines.

The farm bill that President Bush signed last year provided $100 million in loans and loan guarantees over the next six years to encourage companies, cities and counties to invest in broadband in rural areas.

Broadband access in rural areas has lagged because the scarcity of potential subscribers doesn't justify the high cost of laying cable or building satellite towers in rural areas.

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
News
Top 10 Data and Analytics Trends for 2021
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  11/13/2020
Commentary
Where Cloud Spending Might Grow in 2021 and Post-Pandemic
Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer,  11/19/2020
Slideshows
The Ever-Expanding List of C-Level Technology Positions
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  11/10/2020
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
The State of Cloud Computing - Fall 2020
The State of Cloud Computing - Fall 2020
Download this report to compare how cloud usage and spending patterns have changed in 2020, and how respondents think they'll evolve over the next two years.
Video
Current Issue
Why Chatbots Are So Popular Right Now
In this IT Trend Report, you will learn more about why chatbots are gaining traction within businesses, particularly while a pandemic is impacting the world.
Slideshows
Flash Poll