According to recent reports by both the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Commerce, increasing numbers of American farmers are using the internet. Long ignored throughout the country, rural America has recently enjoyed a telecommunications boom, with major telecom companies seeking to expand their customer base.
This expansion has not just been a goal of private companies. Expansion of rural internet has long been an important part of Farm Bill. The 2008 Farm Bill, for example, set aside significant amounts of federal funding for the expansion of rural broadband networks.
These efforts have paid off in recent years. Average internet use in rural America has increased to about 60 percent of households. While this number is still low compared to urban and suburban households, which average about 70 percent, it represents a significant improvement over the last decade.
Internet expansion and other technological revolutions have had a major impact on farming in the U.S. Perhaps most importantly, internet access has been a vital research tool for many rural communities. With internet access, in addition to smart phones, iPads, and other computing devices, farmers are able to rapidly access weather forecasts, research farming practices, plant diseases, and receive instant feedback from other farmers.
In addition to research, internet access has been vital to many farmers seeking to expand their customer base. Community Supported Agriculture projects would be difficult to create and maintain without accessible websites. The expansion of broadband internet into rural farming communities has been vital to farmer’s efforts to create a visible face for American agriculture.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer