A recent study funded by the United Soybean Board finds 60% of farmers say they don’t have enough connectivity to run their businesses.
The study, “Rural Broadband and the American Farmer: Connectivity Challenges Limit Agriculture’s Economic Impact and Sustainability,” was initiated by the United Soybean Board in order to understand rural broadband.
Among the findings:
- 78% of farmers do not have a choice in internet service providers.
- 60% of farmers say the internet service they do have is slow, with most relying on cell signals or hotspots to connect to the internet.
- 40% of farmers have a fixed internet connection, while others rely on satellite connections.
- In the 18 months before being surveyed, nearly one-third of farmers said internet connectivity has impacted purchase decisions to upgrade farm equipment.
- 67% of farmers believe it is at least moderately important to be able to transfer data wirelessly from the field.
- Only 32% of farmers consider their office internet reliable.
- More than 50% of farmers want to incorporate more data in their operation, but lack the connectivity to do so.
“There’s a clear disparity between connectivity in rural versus non-rural areas,” said Tim Venverloh, vice president of sustainability strategy for USB. “The lack of connectivity, however, extends to farmers past the farm gate. When farmers can’t maximize the functionality of their equipment, particularly in the middle of the field, it has repercussions beyond the farm. More and more of the future is about data and data transfer. The timely dissemination and use of data is becoming more important in a precision ag and decision ag world.”
The results of the qualitative and quantitative research highlight the critical need to improve rural broadband access, which has implications far beyond quality of life (information, communication and entertainment) in addition to the livelihood for rural communities.
More than 2,000 primary and secondary farm operators responded to a combination of online and mail-in surveys to participate. Participants included 86% who grow field or row crops such as corn and soybeans; 21% who grow specialty crops such as fruits and vegetables; and 55% who raise livestock. In-depth telephone interviews were also conducted with participants in eight states in July and August 2019.