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Booming Internet Farm Trade Tops £300 Million

The value of farm produce sold over the internet is estimated to have reached £325 million.

The innovative new route for shifting farm goods stems from the burgeoning number of farmers who are online, according to an NFU survey of 1,000 farmers in England and Wales.

More than eight out of 10 farmers have now entered cyberspace, a rise of a third on just over a year ago when only 62% used the internet compared to 83% today.

Key findings of the survey were:
* 10% of farmers who are online now use the internet to trade. Farm e-trading was unheard of five years ago.
* The average value per farm of internet sales was £13,000.
* 92% of farmers say they anticipate their sales over the internet rising during 2003.
* The most popular products sold over the internet are farm holiday cottages and B&Bs.
* The opening up of new markets here and abroad was cited by 86% as the main reason for using the internet to trade.

Despite the major increase in use of the internet for trading, farmers still use the internet primarily for gathering information (91%), banking (46%) and news (36%).

The results come just weeks before the launch of the NFU's brand new website which uses up to the minute content management technology to deliver a service tailored to individual farmers' needs including sector-specific information and the latest news.

NFU President Ben Gill said: "Almost overnight, the internet has become an integral part of people's lives and farmers are no exception.

"In today's rapidly changing world, up to the minute information is ever more valuable and no more so than with evolving and detailed issues like reform of the Common Agricultural Policy.

"But as well as using it for things like accessing information, farmers have realised that they have a fantastic outlet for selling what they produce literally at the touch of a button. The boom in internet sales of farm produce shows that farmers and growers are now firmly part of the internet generation."


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