According to recent studies by Missouri University, increased access to broadband internet greatly increases farm profits. For the past several years, various federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Federal Communications Commission, have made the expansion of broadband internet a major goal. Access to broadband, they argue, not only improves quality of life, but also can help expand economic activity by greatly enlarging the services and clientele of small businesses.
Researchers at Missouri University have confirmed the economic benefit of high-speed internet, particularly on rural households. That study, which built on an older one from North Carolina, revealed that farms in counties with broadband internet access did much better than those without. In North Carolina, for example, counties receiving USDA broadband internet loans saw farm profits increase by three percent.
In Missouri, researchers found similar trends. Farmers with high-speed internet access, the report revealed, saw above average increases in farm profits.
In particular, high-speed internet helps farmers who sell directly to consumers. Farmers involved in Community Supported Agriculture have a much easier time connecting to consumers via broadband internet. In addition, internet access serves as a vital source of research about farming techniques and practices.
Despite these benefits, some farmers are worried about the future of rural development. Increasing internet access is an expensive process, and, given the recent agricultural budget reductions in Congress, many farmers are worried that these efforts could halt in the upcoming Farm Bill.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer