Computer use and Internet access on U.S. farms is leveling off, according to a survey by USDA’s National Agriculture Statistics Service. The rate for both computer ownership and business usage increased just 1 percent from 2003 to 2005.

Of more than 32,400 farms of all kinds and types surveyed by NASS, 55 percent own or lease a computer - up slightly from 54 percent in 2003 - and 31 percent use it in their operations. About 51 percent have Internet access, compared with 48 percent in 2003.

When asked how they access the Internet, more than two-thirds of producers, 69 percent, use dial-up. Approximately 26 percent have used the Internet in the past 12 months for nonagricultural business.

As expected, farms that made the most money had more Internet access and used their computers more than smaller farms.

About 77 percent of farms with sales and government subsidies of $250,000 or more say they own or lease a computer, and 72 percent of those have Internet access.

By comparison, farms that had revenues of at least $10,000 but still made under $100,000, just 51 percent owned or leased a computer, and 47 percent had Internet access.

For livestock operations, 57 percent had computer access and 48 percent had Internet access, both up 1 percent from 2003. The use of a computer for farm business has increased to 29 percent for livestock operations, up 2 percent from 2003.

For crop operations, 60 percent had computer access and 33 percent used a computer for their farm business in 2005, the same as 2003. Internet access for crop farms increased to 52 percent in 2005 compared to 49 percent in 2003.

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Associated Press, USDA