Oregon's reputation as an early adopter of high tech and national leader in its usage is enhanced by the state's farming and ranching community, says the Oregon Department of Agriculture.
Results of a new survey confirm that computers are just as important to most Oregon agricultural operations as the tractor.
"Oregon farmers and ranchers are savvy when it comes to technology and have embraced the computer in nearly every aspect of their operation," says Katy Coba, ODA director. "We consistently rank high among all states each time these computer surveys are done."
The nationwide survey is conducted every two years by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Oregon is at or near the top in nearly all 2011 survey categories.
Oregon leads the nation in percentage of farm operations with internet access at 80%.
Oregon is tied for third with Idaho in percentage of farm operations with computer access at 83%, trailing only Utah (85%) and Wyoming (84%).
The numbers are similar in the percentage of farmers owning or leasing a computer. Oregon ranks second at 80%, trailing Idaho. In all cases, Oregon is well above the national average.
Other states have made huge strides in the percentage of farmers and ranchers using computers as part of their business activities. Oregon numbers are up from the 2009 survey, but not as dramatically as some other states.
"Oregon is a pretty progressive state and I think we see people using a tool that is advantageous to them on a daily basis," says ODA Information Systems Manager Steve Poland.
"The internet and access to it gives them the ability to do their business more efficiently and effectively."
At some point, all states may reach a saturation point when it comes to computer use. Bur for now, nearly all are showing improvement in farm computer usage. For Oregon, the 83% computer access mark is an increase from 79% recorded in 2009.
The easiest explanation, says ODA, is that the state continues to make strides in establishing computer accessibility for rural Oregon communities.