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USDA: Farm computer use rises

Computer use and internet access on American farms continues to rise, with the Upper Midwest remaining ahead of the national average, according to a new report.

Much of the new use comes from smartphones the National Agricultural Statistics Service, an arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, said in its August 2019 report. The National Agricultural Statistics Service also surveyed farm computer usage and ownership in 2017.

Satellite and digital subscriber lines remain the most popular nationwide to access the internet. The survey shows 26% of U.S. farms use satellite and 22% use a digital subscriber line while 3% still use dialup.

Nationwide, 73% of U.S. farms have desktop or laptop access, 69% own or lease a laptop or desktop and 52% have a smartphone. Those percentages are up from 72%, 68% and 44%, respectively, in 2017.

Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota farms have increased in some, but not all, categories measured by the report.

In Minnesota, 78% of its farms have access to a laptop or desktop, up from 77% two years ago; 75% own or lease a computer, unchanged from 2017, and 59% have a smartphone, up from 49% two years ago.

In Montana, 80% of its farms have access to a laptop or desktop, unchanged from two years ago; 79% own or rent a computer, up from 76% in 2017 and 54% have a smartphone, up from 48% two years ago.

In North Dakota, 79% of its farms have access to a laptop or desktop, unchanged from two years ago; 76% own or lease a computer, also unchanged from 2017 and 64% now have smartphones, up from 61% two years ago.

In South Dakota, 79% of its farms have access to a laptop or desktop, up from 76% in 2017; 78% own or lease a computer, up from 74% two years ago and 65% now have smartphones, up from 53% in 2017.

Wyoming leads the nationwide with 93% of its farms having access to a laptop or desktop. New Mexico ranks last, with 47% of its farms having access to a laptop or desktop.

Among other finds in the report:

• 19% of U.S. farms conduct ag marketing over the internet, the same as two years ago.

• 24% of U.S. farms buy ag inputs over the internet, also unchanged from 2017.

• 53% of U.S. farms conduct business with at least one non-ag website, up from 50% two years ago.

The report didn't analyze trends in farm computer use nor explain why some states have greater use than others.

To read the report: https://usda.library.cornell.edu/concern/publications/h128nd689.

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