Dairy web-surfers increase dramatically in two years

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There's more web-savvy dairy farmers than ever.  

According to the USDA's "Farm Computer Usage and Ownership" report, released last Friday, 61 percent of dairy farms in the U.S. have internet access, compared to 52 percent in 2009.

The first report to track farm computer use in 1997 did not break it down specifically among dairy farms, but among livestock farms in general, 13 percent had internet access. That means there has been tremendous growth over the past 14 years.

In 2011, 64 percent of dairy farms had computer access, up 4 percentage points from 2009. Yet, there is a major difference between dairy farms, depending on income. Eighty-three percent of the dairy farms with annual incomes of $250,000 or more have computer access, compared to 52 percent with annual incomes less than that.

Ray Prock, owner of Ray-Lin Dairy in Denair, Calif., recalls the farm's first computer in the mid-1990s. “Our first computer had a floppy drive and we used dial-up, both nearly obsolete technologies.” Technology used at Ray-Lin Dairy has advanced tremendously since that time. Today, Ray-Lin Dairy has several computers, and hand-held devices and smart phones are also used to manage the operation.

Improved technology helps this dairy manage a high volume of information easily. “Computers and technology allow us to be more detailed on the types and amount of information recorded,” notes Prock.

Computer and technology usage in the dairy industry will likely continue to increase as reflected in the NASS report. Prock agrees and is excited about what the future of technology might offer his operation. “The possibilities with technology are endless,” he says. “I may be a bit biased, but I think the agriculture industry has seen more technology innovation and advancement in the last three years than any other segment.”

Read the new report from the USDA;s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

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Philip Lewis    
Salem, NY  |  August, 16, 2011 at 01:51 PM

I certainly cannot imagine managing a dairy farm without computer access. Or, managing any business without computer access. It's no wonder the dairy industry continues to lose producers. sometimes vanishing results from a "death wish" ... eh?

Laurie A. Kyle, BNS    
Elkhorn, Wi  |  August, 17, 2011 at 07:00 PM

We use technology for e-mail, herd health records, blogging, facebook, twitter, word for documents and the list goes on and on. If dairy producers are leaving the industry because they haven't embraced technology then maybe they shouldn't be in the industry. Our industry has changed because it is consumer driven and technology is one of those things that we as dairy producers have found to be helpful. As time has gone on, we as producers have had to produce more food with less land and have to feed more people.

Laurie A. Kyle, BNS    
Elkhorn, Wisconsin  |  August, 17, 2011 at 07:04 PM

As time has gone on the dairy industry has embraced technology of all kinds which includes e-mail, herd health programs, word documents, blogging, Facebook, Twitter and the list goes on and on. The industry as a whole has been asked to provide more food for more people on less land and with fewer resources. I don't believe technology has anything to do with producers getting out. Technology has made life easier for those producers who are already good managers. Dairy producers today need to be good at so many things and it is survival of the fittest.

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