Farm survey -- 86 percent favor online marketplace

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Findings from an Internet survey indicate future farm success will involve farmers and ranchers and their cooperatives knowing how to effectively manage the Internet for marketing.

That was the sentiment registered by 86 percent of individuals responding to an on-line survey conducted by National Farmers Union, a general farm organization representing more than a quarter of a million farm families nationwide and headquartered in metro Denver.

"The purpose of this survey was to find out from farmers, ranchers and rural citizens ways they may be using the Internet and its relevance to their farm business and local cooperatives," said Jeff Moser, project manager and NFU director of economic and co-op development.

Perhaps the most significant finding in the survey was 58 percent of the responding farmers said they used the Internet for doing farm business for buying and selling.

"From that key result Farmers Union is encouraged by helping farmers and ranchers and their co-ops to use the Internet for marketing and selling niche services and goods like specialty cheeses, par-baked breads, premium pasta, organic soybeans, and natural meats," Moser said.

The survey also found that:

* 94 percent of all respondents use a computer,

* 88 percent were connected to the Internet,

* 80 percent use the Internet daily,

* 47 percent are interested in marketing the products of their own farm or co-op over the Internet,

* 43 percent said their farm or the cooperative that they are associated with had a Web site.

According to other recent statistics, online retailing in the United States accounts for 2.3 percent of all retail sales or approximately $100 billion annually.

The NFU survey is part of a larger project to enhance rural business from an existing online learning center created two years ago by NFU. The Web site, www.e-cooperatives.com, was created to tie Internet education with online retailing so the specialty products of farms and farm cooperatives become more readily available to consumers, said Moser.

"E-cooperatives.com educates and helps family farmers and ranchers carve out a niche, add value to their products and enhance their bottom line," said Missouri Farmers Union President Russ Kremer. "It also helps create authentic relationships between producers and consumers."

National Farmers Union fielded the online survey between Aug. 10 and Sept. 6 and motivated 827 respondents. The survey was also provided off-line to attendees at various state and local fairs around the country including in Missouri, California and Colorado.

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