Farmers look for better Internet serviceRAPID CITY (AP) — More of South Dakota’s rural areas might soon have high-speed Internet as the state’s Bureau of Information and Telecommunications surveys agriculture producers statewide about how they use technology.
RAPID CITY (AP) — More of South Dakota’s rural areas might soon have high-speed Internet as the state’s Bureau of Information and Telecommunications surveys agriculture producers statewide about how they use technology.
The state’s Broadband Initiative has partnered with the United States Department of Agriculture Field Office to survey farmers and ranchers on whether they have Internet and, if they do, how they use it.
Farmers and ranchers surveyed showed a wide range of concerns, said Emily Keil, the bureau’s social media manager. Some complained that their Internet service is severely lacking.
“I would probably use it a lot more but we are still on dial-up,” said Paul Marrs, who farms with his wife Linda in rural Whitewood. “It really gets me that less than three miles away my neighbor is on a different provider and they have access to broadband.”
Dom Bianco, the bureau’s commissioner, said high-speed broadband Internet can “expand education opportunities, improve public safety, enhance health care activities and bring economic growth to the region.”
The bureau emphasizes that the main purpose of the Broadband Initiative is to better integrate technology into agriculture, which is the state’s top economic driver.
“South Dakota has a wide variety of tech-savvy ag producers who are managing small- to multimillion-dollar operations over their slow, data-capable cell phones, and it is our goal to fix that and 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.
Not all farmers are eager to jump on the broadband wagon, however. Farmer Orville Edwards said he’s “too old for that stuff,” even though he knows the upgraded technology is helpful.
“I don’t really use the Internet,” he said.
Bianco said that farmers and ranchers who want to better incorporate technology can use it to be more efficient and to better market their livestock.