SD’s Broadband Initiative wants to hear from Ag Producers

The state’s Broadband Initiative, led by the Bureau of Information and Telecommunications (BIT), has partnered with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Field Office in South Dakota to survey agriculture producers across the state for the second time to assess the usage of high-speed broadband Internet services in rural areas.

“Based on comments received from the 2012 survey, we learned many respondents were just beginning to subscribe to Internet services” said David Zolnowsky, BIT Commissioner. “This is the primary reason we are again asking for participation in the survey; we want to measure changes in the availability and utilization of high speed Internet services and assess the impact these services have on our agriculture community and rural areas across the state.”

Approximately 6,500 surveys were mailed this month to South Dakota agriculture producers encouraging participation in this Internet Usage Survey. The survey requests information from agriculture producers asking if they subscribe to an Internet service, how they utilize the service and how availability, speed and affordability impact their utilization. The results of the survey will guide state policy decisions encouraging providers to expand areas of service or enhance the quality of high speed broadband Internet services in South Dakota.

“High-speed broadband Internet services can expand educational opportunities, improve public safety, enhance health care delivery and bring economic growth to the region. Utilization also improves producers’ ability to market livestock, forage and grain, providing a competitive advantage and improving the state’s rural economy,” stated Zolnowsky.

“South Dakota has a wide variety of tech savvy agriculture 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 Lucas Lentsch, Secretary for the South Dakota Department of Agriculture. “We highly encourage farmers and ranchers to complete the survey; we want to hear from them.”

The ultimate goal of the Broadband Initiative is to increase the availability of high-speed broadband Internet to all of South Dakota with an emphasis on rural areas. Assessment of the availability and utilization of high speed broadband Internet services within agriculture, the primary economic driver across the state, is extremely important to this project. If producers did not receive the survey or misplaced it, they can request a copy be mailed to them by calling 1.800.338.2557 or they can simply take the survey online by visiting Survey results will be available online in the spring.

For more information on the Broadband Initiative, please connect with us on Twitter @broadbandsd, Facebook or on YouTube

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