16 November 2001
Survey reveals net-savvy farmers

By FWi staff

ALMOST two-thirds of British farmers recently surveyed by the National Farmers Union are online – a far cry from the image of producers as country-bumpkin technophobes, claims the survey.

The poll, sent to 1000 farmers and posted on the membership website NFUnet, also found that over 70% of online farmers surf the Internet at least once a day.

NFU president Ben Gill said: “We live in a world where speed in obtaining the latest information is the key to success.

“As the Internet grows in value, more and more farmers are seeing real business benefits from becoming Internet-savvy.”

Internet use among regular surfers increased by 69% during foot-and-mouth, when many farmers relied on it for information, the survey found.

“The Internet was particularly crucial during the height of the foot-and-mouth crisis, when many farmers were isolated,” said Mr Gill.

“It also provided a virtual platform for advice and for members to come together and support each other.”

More businesses are exploiting the Net to trade goods, with a wide variety of businesses online, from farm holiday accommodation to essential oils.

Almost all online farmers said they used the Internet for information with 60% accessing it for news and 32% for buying goods.

But farmers do have some concerns about using the Internet, with 42% saying they did not have enough time, the survey found.