Computers are playing a larger role in dairy decision-making and a new USDA survey measuring dairy farmer computer use and the growing “need for speed” when it comes to Internet connections was Dairy Profit Weekly editor Dave Natzke’s topic in Friday’s broadcast.
He began by referring to how much computers have impacted the jobs of us in farm media but said the same is true for dairy farmers. Whether checking futures prices to make marketing decisions, visiting a website to learn more about a new feeding strategy, or posting a comment on Facebook to help educate consumers, Natzke said, the computer is growing as a dairy management tool.
According to the report, about 60 percent of all U.S. dairy operations have computer access, 57 percent own or lease a computer, 45 percent use computers for farm business, and 52 percent have Internet access.
However, while on par with producers of livestock and crops, dairy producers continue to lag grain and cotton producers in overall computer access and use, according to Natzke, but dairy producers generating $250,000 or more in sales and government payments are much more likely to utilize computers, and are near the leaders in embracing the technology among all U.S. farm operators.
A June 2009 USDA survey found 80 percent of dairy farmers with annual sales of $250,000 or more have access to computers and the Internet, and about 70 percent use computers for their business management. And, more are opting for higher-speed Internet connections.
Just four years ago, “dial-up” was the main connection to the Internet for dairy farmers, at 76 percent, Natzke reported. Today, dial-up has slipped to about 30 percent, with digital subscriber lines (DSL), wireless, cable and satellite Internet access making up 70 percent.