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23.07.07
Cornish farmers lead the UK in use of broadband

New research shows that take up of broadband by farmers in Cornwall is higher than by farmers anywhere else in the UK.

The research was commissioned by actnow, the pioneering Objective One partnership project that is led by Cornwall Enterprise and is spearheading the growth of broadband in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. The research was part-funded by the Cornwall Agricultural Council Development Team.

The research, carried out by Martyn Warren of the Rural Futures Unit at Plymouth University, reveals that 44% of farmers in Cornwall now have broadband technology.

The use of broadband by Cornish farmers has been accelerated by actnow, which has promoted the benefits of broadband and ICT to farmers since 2005, offering rebates on broadband connection costs and free tailored advice on how farmers can make the most of the technology to help increase their efficiency and profitability.

Martyn Warren says: "This research shows that Cornish farmers are ahead of the game, realising that broadband technology can help them improve their business. Broadband helps them save time and money, improving efficiency, reducing overheads and paperwork. Broadband streamlines communications with Defra and government bodies and for many farmers, it is also opening up new marketing channels."

The research shows that 73% of Cornish farmers use at least one computer in the business and 61% use the internet. 60% say that they expect use of the internet for their business to increase in the next 12 months.

Those farmers who use broadband find it brings a number of advantages such as freeing up a phone line, enabling online banking, online purchasing and email communications with customers and suppliers at a time that suits them. Over 60% of broadband users think that it will increase opportunities for further diversification.

21% of farmers have their own websites, mostly farmers with diversified enterprises.

Older farmers are less likely to use a computer or the internet, with around 20% of the current generation of farmers unlikely ever to use a computer.

Nigel Ashcroft, Project Director of actnow says: "Not only is take up amongst farmers already the highest in the UK, there is also strong interest amongst those farmers that have not yet signed up to broadband, so we can expect to see yet more farmers take advantage of the technology in the months ahead. 53% of those still using a dial up connection say they are highly likely to switch to broadband."

David Rodda of the Cornwall Agricultural Council Development Team says: "It is excellent to see that 30% of farmers want to explore how the increased use of technology can benefit their business by using such technology as precision farming. This technology can be used to increase efficiencies, for example by using satellite technology to help pinpoint precisely where nutrients are required and to avoid the overlapping of field operations. Adopting this technology as another tool for use on the farm alongside the tractor will play an increasing role in the future of farming in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly."

Bill Holliday of the Rural Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Partnership says: "The research shows that 61% farmers say they are saving time as a result of broadband and 40% are making cost savings, which means that they can invest more time and money in business development. These are very positive findings, justifying the significant investment through the SWRDA 'Modernising Rural Delivery' scheme. Farming is at the heart of our rural communities and it is encouraging to see that farmers in Cornwall are making the most of broadband to improve productivity, facing current challenges in the industry and the future with confidence."

Carleen Kelemen, Director of the Objective One Partnership, says: "High speed internet access and the knowledge of how to use it to best advantage is becoming essential for businesses to grow and prosper in the 21st century. This particular actnow initiative is supporting farmers in many aspects of their business including diversification and streamlining and I would encourage farmers to take advantage of the support on offer."

See www.actnowcornwall.co.uk to see the research results and many case studies of how broadband has helped farmers in Cornwall.

actnow has recently released additional funding for farmers, allowing the continued funding of investments such as computers, farming software and website development. For further information about how actnow can help make the most of broadband, including rebates on broadband costs and free tailored advice, call actnow on 0800 800 935.

For further information contact Lynn File at Brand Innovation on 07968 015731 or email lynn@brandinnovation.co.uk.

The Objective One Programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has invested in the actnow project through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF).

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Editor's notes:

The actnow programme is a demand-led initiative to encourage businesses in Cornwall to gain the support they need to move into the broadband economy. It is one of the largest private and public sector partnerships in Cornwall since Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly was granted Objective One status by the European Union in 2000.

The £20 million pound project is part financed by the European Union through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF). Other project partners include Cornwall Enterprise, the Objective One Partnership Office, BT, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the South West of England Regional Development Agency (SWRDA), the Cornwall County Council, Business Link Devon and Cornwall, Cornwall College and Rural Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Partnership.

For more information, call Lynn File at Brand Innovation on 07968 015731.

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Clare Morgan
Media Relations Manager
Objective One Partnership Office
Castle House
Pydar Street
Truro TR1 2UD
Mobile: 07973 813647
Telephone: 01872 223439

cmorgan@cornwall.gov.uk

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