It’s amazing how much the internet has changed our lives.

Ever since I began working on agricultural publications 26 years ago, I have sent advance checking copies to my information sources to ensure accuracy. In the early to mid-1980s, I had to do it by regular mail — and it took forever! By the time I sent the letter out, it might be a week or so before I heard back from the source. That improved with fax machines in the late 1980s, but it was still a hassle and the recipient only got a fuzzy version of what the article looked like. Today, with a computer, I can send a color page proof with a single keystroke — and sometimes get a response back within five or 10 minutes.

I’m amazed at how much more we can provide our readers by linking them to useful Web sites. The Internet is a great repository of information.

And more and more of you are tapping into its potential.

A poll conducted two years ago by Harris Interactive showed the Internet was growing in importance among farmers and ranchers. Nearly two-thirds of respondents (who were either online at the time or planning to be online) said they would spend more time over the next three to four years using the computer to research new products and learn about advancements in technology.

The trend was particularly pronounced among younger farmers and ranchers. Eighty-five percent of the respondents in their 20s and 74 percent of the respondents in their 30s said they would go online more over the next three to four years to learn about new products.

Online use (for  researching new products and technologies) tended to increase as the farm or ranch grew in revenue, making it a worthwhile investment of time for the most affluent owners and managers.

The fact that young people are heavy Internet users is important, because young people are driving much of the change in the dairy industry today. The same applies to affluent farmers and ranchers. Yet, online use is up among farmers and ranchers in general. 

With this in mind, the editors of Dairy Herd Management have developed online resource centers for your use. They cover a range of topics, including cow comfort and heat abatement, calf and heifer management and resources for a Hispanic workforce. And one of our sponsors has a resource center on hay and silage production.  

The resource centers are dedicated to serving your educational needs and helping you make informed business decisions. Over time, we would like to see the resource centers evolve into an online marketplace, bringing buyers and sellers together in a mutually beneficial way.

Please check out our new resource centers. Go to our home page at www.dairyherd.com and look for the resource-center banners on the right-hand side. If you have comments, you can send them to tquaife@food360.com.