SALEM, Oregon (AP) - A recent nationwide government survey indicates that Oregon farmers and ranchers are among the leaders nationally for using computers in their agricultural operations.
The survey shows Oregon near the top in nearly all computer categories for 2009, including fifth nationally for the percentage of farm operations with access to a computer - 79 percent.
Oregon is also No. 5 in the percentage of farms with Internet access at 69 percent.
"We know that Oregon farmers and ranchers are savvy when it comes to technology," says Katy Coba, director of the Oregon Department of Agriculture.
The survey is conducted every two years by the National Agricultural Statistics Service, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Washington state ranked even higher nationally, trailing only New Hampshire for farm operations with access to a computer and Wyoming for farms with Internet access.
But the survey shows other states are catching up while Oregon appears to be leveling off.
"Being an early adopter of computer use may have resulted in Oregon agriculture reaching a plateau while slow adopters are now catching up," said Steve Poland, the state agricultural information systems manager.
The state also showed a slight decline in purchases of agricultural supplies and in marketing activity on the Internet. But agriculture officials say Oregon may pick up the pace as computer and Internet access expands in rural communities.
The survey indicates that high-speed access with digital telephone service, cable, satellite and wireless connections have become much more available to farms and ranches.
The percentage of Oregon farmers and ranchers still using dial-up service has been cut in half from 52 percent in 2007 to just 26 percent in 2009.
Officials also say devices such as personal digital assistants have become more popular, reducing reliance on computers for Internet access. The survey did not ask specifically about PDAs, so it was not clear whether farmers and ranchers drew a distinction between computers and the handheld devices.