Ag producers asked about Internet service

2012-02-05T10:15:00Z Ag producers asked about Internet serviceColleen Brunner Butte County Post correspondent Rapid City Journal

The state's Bureau of Information and Telecommunications is asking agriculture producers across the state about their issues with technology.

The state's Broadband Initiative, led by the Bureau of Information and Telecommunications, recently partnered with the United States Department of Agriculture Field Office in South Dakota to survey producers with the goal of increasing high-speed Internet in rural areas, according to Emily Keil, social media manager for the South Dakota Bureau of Information and Telecommunications.

The purpose of the survey was to find out what producers' issues are with the use of technology.

Some local farmers and ranchers had a wide range of concerns as they gathered at the recent Ag Show at Vale.

"I don't really use the Internet," said local farmer Orville Edwards.

He said he was "too old for that stuff," even though he knows that kind of communication is helpful. He said that he keeps up on the changes in technology in ag-related fields through magazines that he reads. He understands the advantages of technology on the farm, but he has downsized his operation through recent years and believes it is considered more of a hobby than a real life-supporting enterprise.

"High-speed broadband Internet can expand educational opportunities, improve public safety, enhance health care activities and bring economic growth to the region," said Dom Bianco, the BIT commissioner said.

Bianco said by providing this tool, the state is more efficiently allowing farmers and ranchers to better market their livestock, reach new customers and gain competitive advantages.

The surveys requested information on whether or not producers had Internet, how they used it, if they do have access and how they might potentially use it more if it was faster and more affordable.

The BIT hopes to use the information received to identify places in the state where broadband is not available or needs improvement in services and speed.

Not all farmers are happy with their particular situation. Paul and Linda Marrs, rural Whitewood farmers and ranchers, said their Internet service lacks a lot.

"I would probably use it a lot more but we still are on dial-up," said Paul Marrs. "It really gets me that less than three miles away my neighbor is on a different provider and they have access to broadband. Nothing of importance has been done to upgrade our (communications) service 1971."

Marrs said his wife had filled out the survey and returned it, making sure the state understood things were not great in the area of broadband communications.

The BIT emphasizes that the main purpose of the Broadband Initiative is to increase economic opportunities and that agriculture is the No. 1 economic driver across the state.

"South Dakota has a wide variety of tech savvy ag producers, who are managing small to multi-million dollar operations over their slow, data-capable cell phones and it is our goal to fix that and to give them the competitive advantages to grow and continue their operations in the most rural areas of the state," said Walt Bones, secretary for the South Dakota Department of Agriculture. 

Bones said he hopes the farmers and ranchers will complete the survey and return it to BIT so it can use that information to provide better service to all areas of South Dakota.

Copyright 2015 Rapid City Journal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(1) Comments

  1. badhand
    Report Abuse
    badhand - February 06, 2012 9:11 am
    So now the city taxpayer is going subsidize the rural internet. Is it not time we started funding the schools instead. But then farmers and ranchers rule state politics.
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