Daily Yonder on Farm Broadband

Daily Yonder

Daily Yonder

Still gleaning data from the Census of Agriculture specific to Southwest Minnesota.  In the meantime, Blandin on Broadbandrefered to analysis and mapping done by Daily Yonder on the data for rural broadband use.  The initial USDA PR presented data as % of %, which is as annoying as it is bad statistics.  The picture will become more clear as more eyes scan the data.

Daily Yonder gives us a snapshot of broadband usage reported by farmers across the non-metro United States.  DY references a Pew survey that matches Census of Ag results for rural internet use.  I’m sceptical of some of the methodology for Census of Agriculture, so it’s nice to see the numbers line up with other sources.

There are patterns in the Census data. The most urban states have the most farms with broadband connection. Also, states with large farms also have a high percentage of operations with high speed connections. Nebraska, North and South Dakota, Iowa and Kansas are all well above the national average of broadband connection.

This paragraph immediately caught my critical eye.  If the most urban states are most wired, why are Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, etc above average?  DY goes on to note a dicotomy—broadband usage is also highest in counties with larger farms, which they assume will have greater incomes to afford broadband.

Let’s look at Colorado.  The top counties for farms with broadband are mountain resort counties:  Pitkin, Eagle, Mineral counties.  They do tend to skew the “real ag” statistics a bit.  So be it, Aspen doesn’t count.  Next on the list comes Phillips County, Colorado, at 66% broadband usage.  You’re not going to find many ski bums in Holyoke

No. 31 on the rural broadband list is Traill County, North Dakota.  Ah ha!  Of course the progressive farmers of the Red River Valley would be above average at 56% broadband usage.  Now, 15 years ago when I worked for the Traill County Economic Development Commission in Mayville, North Dakota, we were working with community leaders to provide basic local, toll-free dial-up connections.  The result was a couple aggressive local cooperatives providing service around Mayville and the county seat at Hillsboro who upset the incumbent telcos.  Kinda feel like a proud papa to see our hard work pay out.  Well, maybe a distant uncle since most of the heavy lifting came about after I moved on.

In Traill County, the average farm size is 1,182 acres, and there were 120 farms with reported annual sales of $500,000 or more.  Yet Traill County also had local ISPs willing to go the extra mile to provide service.  It’s alot easier to do business with real people rather than a cold distant voice of Ma Bell.  I expect as in most things we’re looking for that partnership of supply and demand.

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3 Comments

  1. boyandgirlscoutsdotcom said,

    18 February 2009 at 20:41

    Fascinating! Now, what web sites are they hitting?

  2. JC said,

    19 February 2009 at 15:12

    Probably filling out 25 questions on Facebook!

  3. 20 March 2009 at 19:54

    […] a complicated question, as discussed (here, here, here and here) when we looked at the US Dept of Agriculture’s Census of Agriculture returns.  Currently, […]


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