Farmers’ use of the Internet has been a hot topic of conversation recently from CNN to Wallaces Farmer. It was even researched as part of the most recent Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll, which has been conducted every year since 1982 when it was established.
“High speed Internet is as important to today’s young adults as electric lines and paved highways were for their parents and grandparents,” says Dr. Paul Lasley, Iowa State University sociologist, who co-directs the annual Farm and Rural Life poll.
To further make his point, Dr. Lasley asks if I would move to an area if high speed Internet wasn’t available. I paused for a moment to truly consider his question. I realized that if I was going to be honest, I’d have to say “no.” As much as I like to escape reality by walking with my Lab through the woods or trying to land a trophy walleye from a remote lake, I wouldn’t ever want to be totally disconnected.
More and more rural residents like me are relying on smart technology to keep them connected. Farmers like Larry Sailer are using their iPads to communicate with consumers on Facebook or Twitter while waiting in line at the elevator. And also like me, the majority of farmers today can’t imagine being tethered to an office due to a land line or a desktop computer.
Contrast this to Dr. Lasley’s first day at Iowa State University in 1980. Lasley said he was issued a manual typewriter with a yellow pad of paper and was told to start writing! I don’t want to even think about writing a blog post or taking notes manually during a meeting. The invention of laptop computers, iPads, and SmartPhones has changed the way we all do business.
It’s no wonder the Farm and Rural Life Poll asked respondents about the types of farming-related information they accessed via the Internet, as well as how often they accessed information from a number of agriculture-related agencies and organizations. The poll shows 84% of farmers who use the Internet get information on the weather. Most farmers who use the Internet also access market information (78%), general ag news (75%) and information about crop production (68%).