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The computer - farmers' new tool

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GPO Box 1563 Canberra ACT 2601

Telephone (06) 272 2000 Facsimile (06) 272 2001 International code 616

8 July 1998

The computer - farmers’ new tool

‘More than one in three farmers use computers’ , AB ARE’s acting Executive Director Dr Stephen Beare said today following the release of ABARE’s 1998 Australian Farm Surveys Report. ‘Use of computers on broadacre and dairy farms has more than doubled since 1993-94’, he continued.

Most users kept track of income and cost details and managed their accounts with then- computer, but computers were widely used for many other purposes. Computers helped in planning for over two in three farm users and also helped in crop and livestock management. ‘Use of computers in cropping industries outstripped use in

other industries’, Dr Beare said.

‘Buying and selling via the internet and use of email are still in their infancy. In 1996­ 97, more use of modems was made to obtain information via the internet than for buying or selling,’ commented Dr Beare.

Farmers who weren’t using computers indicated the main reason for this was a lack of technical familiarity. Almost as many said that a computer would not be very useful in their business. Main users of computers tended to be younger members of the farm workforce and those with at least five or six years of secondary schooling.

‘Farmers in areas closest to capital cities, the high rainfall zones, made less use of computers than farmers in the wheat/sheep or pastoral zones,’ noted Dr Beare. Farmers said costs and problems with the phone service limited their use of modems. If these were less of a problem, it is likely that use would increase, especially in the more remote areas.

For further information contact: Jayne Gamaut (02) 6272 2369.

For general media inquiries contact Margaret Day (02) 6272 3347.

For copies of the 1998 Australian Farm Surveys Report contact Denise Flamia (02) 6272 2211.

Innovation in Economic Research