Internet Usage by Farmers Doubles

Internet usage by commercial farmers has more than doubled in the last two years, according to a study Rockwood Research, a subsidiary of Farm Journal Corp.

The study, “AgWeb 1999: Internet and e-Commerce in Production Agriculture,” predicts that at current rates, by the end of 1999, Internet usage by farmers will more than triple when compared to 1997.

“The computer and the Internet have become just as important to farmers as the tractor and good weather,” said Robert Hill, Ph.D., president of Rockwood.

Farmers now use computers mostly for financial reporting and analysis and for business record keeping. More and more, however, the study found that commercial farmers are becoming heavy users of the Internet.

“It is time for farm input suppliers to wake up to the realities of the emerging dominance of the Internet on the farm and to tap its potential,” Hill said. The Web sites of agriculture supply enterprises give farmers little reason to visit them more than once or twice, according to Hill.

The study also found that farmers migrate quickly toward Web-based transactions such as purchasing seed, crop chemicals, and farm equipment on the Internet. According to the study, two-thirds of all commercial farmers own at least one computer. They also spend an average of two hours per week on the Internet for agricultural purposes.

The study is based on telephone interviews with 407 US commercial farmers. The results are accurate within +/- 5 percent with 95 percent confidence.

Additional findings of the survey include:

  • Younger farmers and those with more acreage are more likely to own a PC
  • Farmers currently use the Internet to check commodity prices, weather information, and information about farm machinery and chemicals
  • Online purchases by farmers are expected to increase with Internet access
  • About one-third of Internet farmers say they are interested in shopping for agriculture products online in the future.

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