This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from the USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.
It’s no secret that the landscape of rural America and the ways in which farmers and ranchers do business is evolving. These changes are happening not only in the fields, in terms of what is produced and how, but also in the office and home with how producers access information and conduct business.
Within the past 10 years, Internet access on farms in the United States has increased 19 percent. According to the just released Farm Computer Usage and Ownership report, today 62 percent of U.S. farms now have access to the World Wide Web, up from 43 percent in 2001. In stark contrast, the report also revealed that only 7 percent of agricultural operations use the Internet to access reports from USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) and only 5 percent use the Web to conduct business with USDA.
While more than half of America’s farms now have access to the Internet, this resource is being greatly underutilized to connect producers with NASS tools and resources. That’s why NASS is working to improve the way we connect with farmers and ranchers via the Web and to inform them about the value of information available online. From responding to a survey, to viewing satellite imagery and accessing current and historical data, NASS is trying to get valuable information back in the hands of producers with the help of the Internet.
Did you know you can subscribe to receive NASS reports free via email on the NASS website? That you can view the newest cropland data layer online through CropScape – a new service that eliminates the need for specialized expertise or equipment in order to view satellite images? Or that with a simple click of a mouse, you can access data from the agricultural census dating back as far as 1840?
These are only a few examples of the online resources provided to America’s farmers and ranchers on the NASS website. The Internet has paved the way for NASS to communicate more information and in a more timely manner to the agricultural community. Now is the time for producers to take advantage of the online resources available at their fingertips and get connected to NASS.