Farmers who can't find a machinery part or locate an agricultural equipment company sometimes call our office for help. Our Talk page, popular with many readers, is where we print some of these requests.
Many times when a reader calls, we turn to the Internet and find a quick answer. This is a simple task that anyone can do with the right equipment and service, yet many farmers cannot do it.
Those of us who spend nearly every workday in front of a computer cannot imagine not being able to quickly access the Internet. It would be a severe handicap to my job if I couldn't. Every day, I go online to visit company Web sites, find product information and make contact with company representatives and farmers. I use the Internet to receive photos for stories. I e-mail everyone, including my boss. The Internet has made my job at Farm Industry News easier.
The Internet can help farmers, too. But some farmers need to get a computer first, and then most need to invest in high-speed Internet service. Without high-speed service, farmers will become frustrated with a dial-up connection and will limit their use of the Internet. Dial-up service takes minutes to hours to download Web sites and information on the computer screen. High-speed connections take only seconds.
Limited Internet use will be a problem someday because most business will be conducted online. Banking, for example, has already headed that way with extensive online service. USDA is posting its programs and documents online. Major equipment companies offer an online search for parts, and farmers can research most new equipment this way, too.
Farmers who use these online services will save time and fuel from not having to drive to town to do business. They can comparison shop online and save money by finding the best deal without ever leaving the farm.
So take a look at our series of articles about high-speed Internet that starts on page 7 of this issue. This month's stories look at how many farmers use high-speed services and which groups of farmers are using them. Future stories will tell how to get a high-speed Internet connection and the best places to live for high-speed access. We hope this series will help you see the value of high-speed Internet. We want you to start visiting our Farm Industry News Web site soon!