Findings from an Internet survey indicate future farm success will involve farmers and ranchers and their cooperatives knowing how to effectively manage the Internet for marketing. That was the sentiment registered by 86% of individuals responding to an on-line survey conducted by National Farmers Union.
Perhaps the most significant finding in the survey was 58% of the responding farmers said they used the Internet for doing farm business for buying and selling.
The survey also found that:
- 94% of all respondents use a computer,
- 88% were connected to the Internet,
- 80% use the Internet daily,
- 51% made a purchase over the Internet within the past six months,
- 47% are interested in marketing the products of their own farm or co-op over the Internet,
- 44% declared they were presently members of a co-op and/or credit union, and
- 43% say their farm or the cooperative that they are associated with had a Web site.
According to other recent statistics, online retailing in the United States accounts for 2.3% of all retail sales or approximately $100 billion annually. In the NFU survey, security was the number one Internet concern of 50% of all respondents, followed in order by privacy, reliability of service, affordability of service, and easy to learn.
The NFU survey is part of a larger project to enhance rural business from an existing online learning center created two years ago by NFU. The Web site, www.e-cooperatives.com, was created to tie Internet education with online retailing so the specialty products of farms and farm cooperatives become more readily available to consumers.
Forester Research, an independent technology research company, projects that by the year 2009, half of U.S. households will have broadband at home. During this yearâ€™s holiday season, NFU hopes to launch the retail component to www.e-cooperatives.com. Then family farmers and co-ops will have a new venue on the Internet for reaching online shoppers seeking better produce from local farms.
National Farmers Union fielded the online survey between Aug. 10 and Sept. 6 and motivated 827 respondents by entering them in a random drawing for a laptop computer, held Oct. 13. The survey was also provided offline to attendees at various state and local fairs around the country including in California, Colorado, and Missouri. Specifically, 408 farmers, ages 17-87 and from 24 states took part in the survey, representing 49% or near half of all individuals participating. Of the farmers, 78% indicated they had been farming at least 10 years or more. The NFU survey was similar to one conducted in March 2004 by the NFU when 268 persons responded from 23 states. Seventeen% of the survey participants identified themselves as current Farmers Union members.