The cold reality that the potential profitability of World Wide Web enterprises was largely inflated hit Wall Street hard. Stock indices tumbled as the gaze of financial analysts fell to the drooping bottom lines of dot.com balance sheets.
Despite its raw commodity orientation American agriculture has not been immune from the fall of dot.coms. Farm country boasted more than a few ventures hoping to harness the technology to the global marketplace.
The Internet has not become the marketplace panacea of countless predictions. A quick study of agriculture could have, perhaps, predicted as much. Endless supplies of bulk commodities, whether grain or information, do not necessarily translate into profits.
Scott Cavey, E-markets: "The biggest obstacle, I think, in the last year, has been somebody in rural America actually, having something worthwhile to do on the internet besides playing games or e-mail. There really hasn't been anything substantial in agriculture that a farmer would go on and do a bulk of their business for. They used it as an alternative or another way, but not as their fundamental business process."
However, that tide is quickly turning as development moves away from the internet as a target audience and is instead developed as a tool for agriculture.
Closest to home are co-ops that have made member accounts available online along with account inquiry and management services. The internet has also expanded the number of grain marketing tools available to the farming community through co-ops like the West Central Cooperative in Iowa.
Roger Fray, West Central Cooperative: "What we're trying to help him do, is simplfy marketing by basically, helping him execute. We know what prices we like....many times, we know seasonally, when we should be doing something but between being busy and maybe, rethinking thoughts or whatever, we don't execute like we should. So, it's an execution tool as much as anything for us."