Computers on the Farm: Information available Online From USDA, State, and Private Sources by@takiffsmith

Computers on the Farm: Information available Online From USDA, State, and Private Sources

You can transform your own microprocessor or other computer into a powerful communications device by adding a modem to it and communicating over the telephone. This will help you gather information on news, weather forecasts, emergencies or disasters, crop and livestock production, and marketing (including current and future prices). Online computer services also include buying and selling farm products; purchasing farm and home supplies, including teleshopping; banking services; business management advice; ordering theater tickets; information concerning farm and public policy; and personal education and entertainment.
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Deborah Takiff Smith

Computers on the Farm

USDA Farmers' Bulletin No. 2277: Computers on the Farm, by Deborah Takiff Smith is part of HackerNoon’s Book Blog Post series. You can jump to any chapter in this book here: [LINK TO TABLE OF LINK]. Information available Online From USDA, State, and Private Sources

Information available Online From USDA, State, and Private Sources

You can transform your own microprocessor or other computer into a powerful communications device by adding a modem to it and communicating over the telephone.

This will help you gather information on news, weather forecasts, emergencies or disasters, crop and livestock production, and marketing (including current and future prices).

Online computer services also include buying and selling farm products; purchasing farm and home supplies, including teleshopping; banking services; business management advice; ordering theater tickets; information concerning farm and public policy; and personal education and entertainment.

Many farmers who are computerizing their operations, as well as others in agriculture, can use some form of online information. There are more than 1,300 public and private information sources available on computer. New ones seem to come out every week. The following selected list of information you can receive on computer includes some of the major private online information services with agricultural applications, as well as the main ones available from USDA and the State land-grant institutions.

Most of these information networks are paid for by the user based on the amount of use. Many charge an initial fee, and then most charge the user by the amount of time he or she spends on the system.

No one computer system or online system may be adequate for everyone. There are many good systems, and different systems are good for different tasks.


AGNET is a major online information and problem-solving service for farmers, ranchers, agribusinesses, and homes. It is sponsored jointly by five State Cooperative Extension Services—Nebraska, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Washington—and operated by the University of Nebraska. County Extension offices in several States participate, and farmers in nearly all the 50 States and Canada subscribe to AGNET.

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It helps people make marketing and production decisions and solve agricultural management problems, and it provides current information on market conditions and news items. It offers cash and futures market reports, international market reports from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), reports and report abstracts from the USDA's Economic Research Service and Statistical Reporting Service, and market comments by Extension Service economists. Also available are electronic mail service and electronic conferencing, which allows groups of users with similar interests to share ideas and information.

Farmers and ranchers who have computer terminals with communication capability can access AGNET. Others can tap into AGNET through their county Extension services. AGNET subscribers are typically agricultural lenders and bankers. Extension specialists, farm managers, home economists, agricultural consulting firms, farmers and ranchers, and exporters of agricultural commodities.

University of Nebraska
105 Miller Hall
University of Nebraska
Lincoln, NE 68583


AGRICOIA is an online information service produced by the National Agricultural Library (NAD of USDA), and is available commercially from a number of sources (including DIALOG and Bibliographic Retrieval Services). It provides comprehensive access to information on published literature pertaining to agriculture.

AGRICOIA is the catalog and index for NAL and covers materials published since 1970. It includes about 1.5 million citations.

AGRICOIA contains citations to worldwide published books, serial titles, and journal articles on agriculture and related subjects. In addition to bibliographic citations of published literature, the system offers information through several specialized subfiles; these subfiles include brucellosis (BRU), environmental impact statements covering 1977 and 1978 (ENV), and the Food and Nutrition Information Center, which emphasizes human nutrition research and education and food technology (FNC).

Librarians are the main users of this system.

ADDRESS: To find out more about AGRICOIA, contact:
Educational Resources Staff
National Agricultural Library
Room 1402
Beltsville, MD 20705

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3. AgriData Network

AgriData is a private information and computing network specializing in agriculture. It offers immediate access to more than 10,000 pages of continuously updated business, financial, marketing, weather, and price information, as well as analyses and recommendations from its own and other reporters, analysts, economists, meteorologists, and researchers.

It offers several different services, including an online computing service that allows users to access a library of microcomputer software programs that can be transferred to the user's microcomputer; an agricultural production technology service offering data bases from 40 land-grant universities and from agricultural, chemical, fertilizer, equipment, seed, and feed companies; an "electronic yellow pages," or product service directory for farmers; and electronic mail.

ADDRESS: AgriData Resources, Inc.
205 West Highland Ave.
Milwaukee, WI 53203

4. Agri-Markets Data Service (AMDS)

Agri-Markets Data Service is an agricultural data base service offered by Capital Publications in Arlington, Va.

The service provides market information, such as prices and shipments, as well as commentary and other information. It gives daily and weekly market commentary on local and national market activity in livestock, grain, fruits and vegetables, and poultry and dairy products.

ADDRESS: Agri-Markets Data Service
1300 North 17th St., Suite 1600
Arlington, VA 22209

5. AMS Market News Network

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The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has a Market News Telecommunications System that reports up-to-the-minute information on commodity prices, demand, and movement. The system transmits between 700 and 900 different reports each day on more than 150 farm commodities. Each report is re-transmitted an average of 30 times. The initial use of this market news system is to transmit reports to the news media and among market news offices; firms and individuals may also subscribe at their own cost.

In addition, AMS and the Public Broadcasting Service deliver market information directly to farmers via a television captioning system called Farm Market INFODATA, available in several cities around the country. By selecting a special channel on a closed captioning decoder, anyone within the broadcast coverage area of the participating public television station may receive the market information. Additional stations in a number of States have instituted this service on their own.

For more information, contact:

AMS Communications and Operations Branch
Administrative Services Division, Room 0092
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Washington, D.C. 20250

6. AutEx Systems

AutEx Systems designs and operates computer-based communications systems which link buyers and sellers in specific industries. Two agricultural services are its Produce Network and its Floral Marketing Network.

Subscribers to the networks use AutEx supplied terminals to access a nationwide communications network that includes buyer and seller offers. This online data communications system offers pretrading information. The terminal prints information needed to compare buying and selling opportunities in fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as floral products. The company is owned by Xerox.

ADDRESS: AutEx Systems
55 William St.
Wellesley, MA 02181

7. Chase Econometrics

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Chase Econometrics, a subsidiary of Chase Manhattan Bank, offers economic and financial information and analyses in the areas of industrial economics, energy, fertilizer, minerals, international economics, U.S. economics, and agriculture through its information system. Data and forecasting services on agribusiness cover international, national, regional, and statewide levels. Subscribers receive regular reports and analyses, and also have access to a number of historical and forecast data bases acquired through internal data collection activities or from other organizations. Many of its customers are large food and agribusiness firms.

ADDRESS: Chase Econometrics
150 Monument Rd.
Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004

8. CMN (Computerized Management Network)

Developed by Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University as a national information system for use by State Extension Services, CMN helps Extension workers in solving problems, retrieving information, and evaluating programs. To date, many CMN programs have provided the foundation for several highly successful Extension programs. Two of the most popular are the Simplified Dairy Cattle Feeding Program, which has had a substantial impact on the economics of feeding dairy herds, and COIN, which provides low-cost user access to USDA reports on marketing, futures, and summary information on all major crops and livestock enterprises. The CMN system is designed to be used by people who have no special training with computers, and is available nationwide and in Canada.

Virginia Cooperative Extension Service
Plaza I, Bldg. D
Blacksburg, VA 24061

9. COIN (Computerized Outlook and Information Network)

COIN is a nationwide source of information from the Extension Service, which can be accessed by State and county extension staff, as well as by researchers, farmers, and agribusiness. It contains USDA outlook, market, and other information on a national computer network.

Information from the USDA which is available through COIN includes Statistical Reporting Service (SRS) Crop Reporting Board reports. Economic Research Service (ERS) economic situation summaries. World Agricultural Outlook Board reports on world agriculture supply and demand. Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) weekly roundup of world production and trade reports. Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) summary of daily grain market prices, and USDA news releases.

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Some States use a multi-State computer network, or an in-State computer system, or both, to transfer agricultural outlook and production information to county offices and disseminate it to the general public. State Extension outlook specialists load their outlook analyses directly onto COIN (with a remote terminal) many times throughout the year.

COIN is available on the Computerized Management Network (CMN) and through USDA ONLINE (see those entries on this list).

10. CompuServe

CompuServe Information Service offers access to more than 500 data bases. Some of the subjects of particular interest to farmers include agribusiness, agricultural news, finance and investment, news, weather, specific commodities including cotton futures prices and cattle prices, and the Commodity News Service data. It also offers electronic shopping and banking, electronic mail, hobby and special interest newsletters, and games.

ADDRESS: CompuServe Incorporated
5000 Arlington Centre Blvd.
Post Office Box 20212
Columbus, OH 43220

11. CRIS—Current Research Information System

CRIS—Current Research Information System—is a computer based information storage and retrieval system. It covers most of the Nation's publicly supported agricultural and forestry research, and contains about 30,000 summaries of research projects. The data base is updated monthly. CRIS summaries provide information about ongoing research projects conducted or sponsored by USDA research agencies, 58 State agricultural experiment stations, 17 State forestry schools, 28 schools of veterinary medicine, 16 land-grant colleges of 1890, Tuskegee Institute, and other cooperating State institutions. It went online in 1977.

Through this retrieval system, an individual can obtain a brief description of the research, along with the investigators' names, performing organization and location, current progress, and a list of the latest publications resulting from the research.

CRIS inhouse search services are provided primarily to research scientists and research managers in USDA and State participating institutions. The public can directly access the CRIS data base through the DIALOG online retrieval system.

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Researchers in public and private institutions are the main users of CRIS.

ADDRESS: Customer Service
DIALOG Information Retrieval Services, Inc.
3460 Hillview Avenue
Palo Alto, CA 94340

12. DRI (Data Resources, Inc.)

DRI is a private forecasting service with regional models that forecast acreage planted and harvested, and yield for all commodities. This service does independent forecasts of production, prices, and demand for livestock, and has a separate program for fertilizer. DRI has software programs for potato producers. Some of its main clients are big agricultural supply companies and food processing firms.

ADDRESS: Data Resources, Inc.
24 Hartwell Ave.
Lexington, MA 02173

13. ESTEL (Extension Service Telecommunication System)

ESTEL is a pilot project from the University of Maryland's Cooperative Extension Service. It provides farmers with information via a microprocessor or videotex equipment, which receives the information and displays it on a video screen. The videotex equipment may be cheaper to purchase than a microcomputer.

ESTEL provides current information on market news, local weather conditions, pesticides, production information, and energy conservation tips, as well as home economics and 4-H programs.

ADDRESS: ESTEL (Extension Service Telecommunication System)
Maryland Cooperative Extension Service
University of Maryland
College Park, MD 20742

14. Farm Bureau ACRES

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The American Farm Bureau Federation has a program to provide marketing information and advice for its members. Known as Farm Bureau ACRES, this marketing information project involves several State farm bureaus. AFBF members can retrieve information from the host computers via telephone hookup and, at the same time, send messages to State computers, thereby providing a two-way daily contact between State coordinators and farmer-members. For more information, contact your county or State Farm Bureau.

15. Firsthand

Based on French videotex technology known as "Teletel," Firsthand is a transactional videotex system originally started by the First Bank System of Minneapolis and now available in other areas too. With this system, participants can access agribusiness bookkeeping systems; weather, commodity, and financial reports; and domestic and international news through a local telephone number. Clients can also do their shopping electronically from a catalog, and obtain commodity reports and other agribusiness information offered by other information providers. They can see their bank statements and balances, make transfers between accounts, and pay bills electronically.

ADDRESS: Videotex
220 Soo Line Bldg.
Minneapolis, MN 55402

16. Grassroots

Grassroots is a Canadian videotex system that provides agribusiness with comprehensive, up-to-date information. It helps farmers make effective purchasing, operating, financing, and marketing decisions. It offers market information on current and future prices of all major agricultural commodities, and carries farm management programs as well. It also offers information from companies offering products and services of interest to agriculture, including material on chemicals, fertilizers, equipment, real estate, seed, feed, grain, and livestock. Material on financial services, banking, and insurance is updated daily.

ADDRESS: Infomart
164 Merton St.
Toronto, Ontario, CANADA M4S 3A8

17. Instant Update

Instant Update is a timesharing information delivery system designed for the Professional Farmers of America. The system offers its users a variety of services and information, including electronic mail, agribusiness news and analyses, weather reports, and technical information.

ADDRESS: Instant Update
Professional Farmers of America
219 Parkade
Cedar Falls, IA 50613

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18. Market Data Systems, Inc.

Market Data Systems carries information from 13 commodity exchanges for the benefit of customers. It leases terminals on which to receive the information.

ADDRESS: Market Data Systems, Inc.
3835 lamar Ave.
Memphis, TN 38118

19. NEMA (National Electronic Marketing Association, Inc.)

NEMA offers marketing firms computerized marketing systems for many agricultural products. It is a way of linking buyers and sellers without having to first transport the products to market.

Electronic marketing enables buyers and sellers to negotiate transactions in a public market while remaining in their own offices. NEMA is developing several marketing systems for agricultural markets. NEMA was developed by Virginia Tech Extension and Research staff in cooperation with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Commerce and AMS.

Through a telephone hookup to computer terminals in any location, buyers and sellers are brought together at a specific time to determine the price, on a competitive basis, for the products being offered for sale. Prospective buyers can obtain written descriptions of the products before sale time.

One pricing technique is a computerized auction process, where the computer acts as the auctioneer. During the auction, the computer drops the asking price until a bid is received, then raises the price from that point until there is only one bidder left. At the end of a sale, the highest bidders receive summaries of their purchases. The products are shipped efficiently from seller to buyer.

State Cooperative Extension Services, producers' organizations. State departments of agriculture, and other agencies have developed and implemented NEMA, as well as some other electronic marketing systems in the United States. Today computerized systems sell slaughter and feeder livestock, cotton, and shell eggs.

This system is for market agents and buyers.

ADDRESS: National Electronic Marketing Assn., Inc.
P.O. Box 722
Christiansburg, VA 24073

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20. NPIRS (National Pesticide Information Retrieval System)

NPIRS is a nationally accessible online data base containing information about all pesticides registered with the Environmental Protection Agency, and indicating which are registered for use against specific pests on specific crops or sites. States can also insert information about State pesticide registrations. Purdue University is developing the system under a cooperative agreement with USDA and is managing the data base, which uses facilities provided by Martin-Marietta, Inc.

ADDRESS: National Pesticide Information Retrieval System
Entomology Hall
Purdue University
West Lafayette, IN 47907

21. Rural Ventures

Rural Ventures offers courses and data, recommends solutions to problems of small farmers, and promotes economic efficiency in small-scale agriculture and food processing enterprises. It is a joint venture by Control Data Corporation and other groups, which started with a project in Princeton, Minnesota.

A Rural Venture project gives farmers the capability to determine the optimum selection of crops, livestock, and equipment, and offers a full range of computer-based education and training programs.

ADDRESS: Rural Ventures, Inc.
120 South LaGrande Ave.
Princeton, MN 55371

22. The Source

The Source, a subsidiary of Reader's Digest, provides access to more than 1,200 programs and services in a variety of subject areas, including agriculture. It carries the Commodity News Service general news reports and daily price activities for major commodities. The system also supplies news and commentary on current business trends along with updated listings of stocks, bonds, commodities, and futures.

ADDRESS: The Source
Source Telecomputing
1616 Anderson Road
McLean, VA 22102

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23. Telplan

Telplan is a timesharing computer service with several interactive problem-solving packages. Its agricultural programs are in the areas of farm finance and animal nutrition, and it offers family finance and human nutrition programs as well. It is operated by Michigan State University and is available nationwide.

ADDRESS: Telplan—Michigan State University
Room 27 Agriculture Hall
Department of Agricultural Economics
Michigan State University
East Lansing, Ml 48824-1039

24. USDA Online

USDA Online delivers news and other current information from USDA's Office of Information. Services include the following reports as they are released: (1) USDA national news releases about policy and program announcements, (2) USDA regional and State news releases about program announcements, (3) outlook and situation report summaries, (4) Crop Reporting Board reports, report highlights, and summaries, (5) Foreign Agricultural Service reports and announcements on foreign crops, world production, and trade, (6) Economic Research Service report abstracts, (7) a daily agricultural news summary called "AG a.m.," and (8) a weekly "Farm Paper Letter" for farm magazine and newspaper editors and others interested in the summary and highlights of USDA reports for the week.

Through USDA Online, users can also access COIN (see p. 24-25) and several other data bases. Another communications network available to users of USDA Online is an electronic mail service linking various offices at USDA and the State Extension Services, land-grant Universities, State Departments of Agriculture, other Federal and State agencies, and other organizations interested in agriculture.

ADDRESS: News Division, Room 404-A
Office of Information
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Washington, D.C. 20250


About HackerNoon Book Series: We bring you the most important technical, scientific, and insightful public domain books. This book is part of the public domain.

Smith, Deborah Takiff. 2019. USDA Farmers: Bulletin No. 2277: Computer on the Farm. Urbana, Illinois: Project Gutenberg. Retrieved May 2022 from

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at, located at

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