Only 40 percent of North Carolina farmers have a fixed internet connection with others relying on satellite, according to a survey just released. Sixty percent of farmers surveyed also said their internet was slow, even though 90 percent indicated that internet was important to their business.
In January 2020, in partnership with the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation at North Carolina State University, the Broadband Infrastructure Office launched the Internet Connectivity for Farmers Survey to gauge the caliber of internet service at farms and farm offices across North Carolina. The survey also aimed to identify locations in need of better connectivity.
The survey found, as outlined in the report, “Internet Connectivity and Farms in North Carolina,” that more than 1,250 respondents from unique addresses in 98 counties took the survey, and 90% of respondents said that reliable high-speed internet is “extremely important” or “very important” to conduct business.
Although agriculture has an estimated $87 billion impact on North Carolina’s economy, many farmers struggle to get affordable, high-speed internet service for their farm offices, which they need to communicate with customers, analyze and share data as well as engage the commodities markets.
The survey was developed in part from information gathered during the North Carolina Farm Bureau Federation listening sessions conducted with local farmers and agriculture partners.
The data will be used to inform research, policy and funding recommendations to assist communities where internet access is inadequate.
Farmers with internet access on their farms were asked to complete the survey from their farm office, with the accompanying speed test. Farmers without internet access were asked to complete the survey, but not the speed test. In both cases, the farm office address was critical to identifying underserved and unserved farms.