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Corn+Soybean Digest

Over Half Of U.S. Farms Have Internet Access

A total of 51% of U.S. farms now have Internet access, compared to 48% with Internet access in 2003. 58% of farms have access to a computer in 2005, the same level as 2003. 55% of all U.S. farms own or lease a computer, up slightly from 54% in 2003. Farms using computers for their farm business increased one percent from 2003 to 31% in 2005. It appears that computer usage, ownership, and Internet access on farms are leveling off.

In 2005, 79% of U.S. farms with sales and government payments of $250,000 or more have access to a computer, 77% own or lease a computer, 66% are using a computer for their farm business and 72% have Internet access. For farms with sales and government payments between $100,000 and $249,999, the figures are: 70% have access to a computer, 67% own or lease a computer, 51% are using a computer for their farm business and 59% have Internet access. For farms with sales and government payments between $10,000 and $99,999, there were 55% that reported having computer access, 51% own or lease a computer, 33% use a computer for their farm business and 47% have Internet access.

For crop farms, 60% have computer access and 33% use a computer for their farm business in 2005, the same as 2003. Internet access for crop farms has increased to 52% in 2005 compared to 49% in 2003. For livestock farms, 57% have computer access and 48% have Internet access, both up 1% from 2003. The use of a computer for farm business has increased to 29% for livestock farms, up 2% from 2003.

In 2005, 12% of the U.S. farms access Federal Government Web sites other than USDA, compared to 11% in 2003. Four percent of farms conduct business with a USDA Web site, up from 3% in 2003. Farms conducting business with any other Federal Government Web site dropped from 5% in 2003 to 3% in 2005. Also, 5% of the farms used a toll-free customer service number during the July 2004 to June 2005 period.

Two new questions were asked in 2005, including how operators access the Internet. Dialup was the most common method of accessing the Internet with 69% of U.S. farms. Operators were also asked if they conducted any non-agricultural business via the Internet in the last 12 months and 26% of the U.S. farms responded yes.

Farm Numbers: For those data users looking to equate these published percentages to actual farm counts, we have included a table showing "Number of Farms: by State and United States" from the January 2005 NASS publication "Farms, Land in Farms, and Livestock Operations". A farm is "any place from which $1,000 or more of agricultural products were produced and sold, or normally would have been sold, during the year".

Survey Procedures: The June Agricultural Survey is conducted every year to provide estimates of farm numbers and land in farms, crop acres planted, grain in storage, livestock inventories, and land values. In 1997, 1999, 2001, 2003, and again in 2005, questions were added to the survey form that asked the operator about access and use of computers. The 2005 computer usage estimates are based on responses from over 32,400 agricultural operations and represent all sizes and types of farms. Coefficients of variations (cv) at the national level in 2005 were 7% or less; at the regional level, cv's ranged from 1 to 20%; and at the State level, cv's generally ranged from 3 to 40%.

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