Information Services for Agriculture: The Role of Technology

Significant improvements in technology-supported information services have created opportunities for their utilization by the farmers and ranchers of our Nation. This report highlights the development and expanded offering of these systems, describes current operational and experimental systems, and presents salient legislative initiatives which address this priority area.

Report No. 82-183 S INFORMATION SERVICES FOR AGRICULTURE: Ob:-., 7k , THE ROLE OF TECHNOLOG': Robert L. Chartrand S e n i o r S p e c i a l i s t i n I n f o r m a t i o n P o l i c y and Technology A. B a r n Carr S p e c i a l i s t i n Agricultural Policy and Nancy R. Miller Research A s s i s t a n t i n Information P o l i c y and Technology November 1 6 , 1982 . ..*.: T h e Congressional Research Service works exclusively for the Congress, conducting research, analyzing legslation, and providing information at the request of committees, Members, and their staffs. T h e Service makes such research available, without partisan bias, in many forms including studies, reports, compilations, digests, and background briefings. Upon request, CRS assists committees in analyzing legislative proposals and issues, and in assessing the possible effects of these proposals and their alternatives. T h e Service's senior specialists and subject analysts are also available for personal consultations in their respective fields of expertise. ABSTRACT Significant improvements in technology-supported information services have created opportunities for their utilization by the farmers and ranchers of our Nation. This report highlights the development and expanded offering of these systems, describes current operational and experimental systems, and presents salient legislative initiatives which address this priority area. CONTENTS I. I1 . INTRODUCTION .............................................. INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY AND ITS APPLICATION IN AGRICULTURE 1 . ............................. IV . ILLUSTRATIVE INFORMATION SYSTEMS FOR AGRICULTURE .......... V . RECENT LEGISLATIVE OVERSIGHT .............................. VI . SELECTED REFERENCES ..................................... I11 . CHRONOLOGY OF SELECTED EVENTS 13 23 27 41 50 I. INTRODUCTION The a g r i c u l t u r a l s c e n e i n t h e 1980 d e c a d e r e f l e c t s t h e c h a n g i n g , and y e t o f t e n s t r i k i n g l y t r a d i t i o n a l , s u p p o r t p r o v i d e d by o u r f a r m e r s and r a n c h e r s who f u l f i l l t h e w a n t s o f t h i s n a t i o n . l e g e n d a r y "sod-house The s m a l l e r f a r m s o f t h e f r o n t i e r " have been r e p l a c e d i n c r e a s i n g l y by " a g r i - b u s i n e s s e s " of g r e a t h o l d i n g s and f i n a n c i a l r e s o u r c e s . f a m i l y farm h a s s u r v i v e d , w i t h s t a n d i n g - - i n of A g r i c u l t u r e O r v i l l e Freeman--"the Nonetheless, t h e t h e words of f o r m e r S e c r e t a r y t e s t of t i m e and c o m p e t i t i o n . . . [making] t h i s c o u n t r y t h e envy of t h e w o r l d and American f a r m p r o d u c t i o n t h e g r e a t e s t p r o d u c t i o n m i r a c l e i n t h e h i s t o r y o f mankind." 1/ C o u n t l e s s innovations have enhanced t h e p r o d u c t i o n p r o c e s s , and a l t h o u g h t h e number o f p r a c t i c i n g farmers continued t o d e c l i n e , t h e a g r i c u l t u r a l output i n c r e a s e d w i t h each passing year. A t t h i s t i m e , o t h e r f a c t o r s i n c l u d i n g g r e a t l y i n f l a t e d equip- ment and f i n a n c i n g c o s t s as w e l l a s f l u c t u a t i o n s i n t h e m a r k e t p l a c e have combined t o b r i n g a b o u t a s e r i o u s s t a t e of a f f a i r s . I n h i s testimony before t h e House Subcommittee on Department O p e r a t i o n s , R e s e a r c h and F o r e i g n 2/ A g r i c u l t u r e , s e l f - p r o f e s s e d " d i r t farmer" Roy Meek declaimed t h a t : - ... t h e a g r i c u l t u r e i n d u s t r y i s e x p e r i e n c i n g some o f t h e most d i f f i c u l t t i m e s s i n c e t h e Great D e p r e s s i o n we have m e t t h e s e problems i n t h e p a s t by i n c r e a s i n g o u r e f f i c i e n c i e s of p r o d u c t i o n and i n c r e a s i n g o u r volume o f production. ... It i s t h e b e l i e f o f many a g r i c u l t u r a l l e a d e r s , s p e c i a l i s t s and p r a c t i t i o n e r s t h a t t h e t r a d i t i o n a l l i s t of a g r i c u l t u r a l e s s e n t i a l inputs-l a n d , l a b o r , capital--must b e expanded i n t o d a y s ' w o r l d t o 1/ B r a d l e y , John P. The I n t e r n a t i o n a l D i c t i o n a r y of Thoughts. c h i c a g o , Ferguson P r e s s , 1969. p. 25. 2/ Remarks o f Roy A. Meek, Manager, E a s t e r n Lamb P r o d u c e r s A s s o c i a t i o n , d u r i n g h e a r i n g on A p p l i c a t i o n s o f Computer-based I n f o r m a t i o n Systems and S e r v i c e s i n A g r i c u l t u r e , U.S. House o f R e p r e s e n t a t i v e s , May 20, 1982. T r a n s c r i p t , p . 60 i n c l u d e "information." A number of spokesmen and i n t e r e s t e d p a r t i e s i n both t h e p u b l i c and p r i v a t e s e c t o r s have gone on r e c o r d a s s a y i n g t h a t t h i s new element must be c o n s i d e r e d t h e "glue" t h a t melds a l l of t h e s e i n g r e d i e n t s i n a way t h a t maximizes s u c c e s s . R e l i a n c e upon t h e American farmer h a s n o t diminished i n t h e l e a s t ; indeed, f o r e i g n d i f f i c u l t i e s ( S o v i e t Union, I n d i a ) i n c r o p p r o d u c t i o n have sharpened t h e f o c u s on t h e c r i t i c a l s u p p o r t f u r n i s h e d by our a g r i c u l t u r a l community. But change i s " i n t h e wind" and t h e consensus e x i s t s t h a t an e r a of r e a s s e s s m e n t h a s been e n t e r e d upon by governmental a g e n c i e s and p r i v a t e groups w i t h r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s r e l a t e d t o t h e a g r i c u l t u r a l i n d u s t r y . A Range of Information-Related I s s u e s I n c o n s i d e r i n g t h e s e v e r a l dimensions of mounting and s u s t a i n i n g a n i m a g i n a t i v e s u p p o r t e f f o r t which could a d e q u a t e l y f u r n i s h f a r - f l u n g r u r a l d w e l l e r s w i t h t i m e l y , comprehensive, a c c u r a t e , and r e l e v a n t inf o r m a t i o n of c o n s i d e r a b l e v a r i e t y , policymakers and program implem e n t e r s a r e f a c e d w i t h a spectrum of i s s u e s t o be addressed: o o o o The k a l e i d o s c o p i c r o l e s and r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s of e s t a b l i s h e d and emerging e n t i t i e s , both i n t h e p u b l i c and p r i v a t e s e c t o r s , who s e r v e as information prov i d e r s f o r t h e a g r i c u l t u r a l community; An e v e r p r e s s i n g requirement t o determine t o what e x t e n t and under which c o n d i t i o n s governmentally c o l l e c t e d d a t a could be a c c e s s e d by p r i v a t e v e n d o r s j The c o n d i t i o n s under which i n d i v i d u a l s o r groups a t t h e l o c a l l e v e l could i n f l u e n c e , even t o a modest d e g r e e , t h e i n f o r m a t i o n o f f erings--content , f r e q u e n c y , form-made a v a i l a b l e t o them; The e x t e n t t o which f o r m a l i z e d r e s p o n s i b i l i t y could be a s s i g n e d t o i n f o r m a t i o n p r o v i d e r s and systems implementers r e g a r d i n g such p o s t - i n s t a l l a t i o n a c t i v i t i e s a s t r a i n i n g , maintenance, and t h e rnodif i c a t i o n of f i l e s and software; The ramifications of private organizations acquiring government-developed data files and/or software which would then be modified, reselting in "value-added" products and services, with particular attention to ownership of such improved elements. o The difersity of hardware and software offerings which has raised vociferous arguments for and against standardization, either through a government mechanism or imposed by the information industry. o The desirability of continued, or enhanced, governmental subsidization of research and first-phase enterprises leading to new or improved information services. o The need to look ahead at efforts which could be undertaken at present to protect the confidentiality of personal and corporate data being entered into some of the agriculturally-oriented on-line files. o Myriad changes have taken place in the past quarter-century as farmers have moved do stay abreast of the technology which can keep them competitive and productive. Many times they are reportedly at the mercy of the marketplace, and in the past were at a disadvantape in knowing of marketing opportunities, current pricing, or trends in the futures' market. With the introduction of improved information systems which could bring up-to-the-minute information on Board of Trade quotes and analyses of activity patterns acrocs the agricultural industry, agri-businesses and smaller farm units began to feel more in control of their own destinies. These are seen as difficult times for farmers, whose production costs have continued to mount in an unprecendented fashion while the vagaries of the marketplace often have prevented them from obtaining sufficient remuneration for their labors. One of the key underpinnings of agriculture today is the series of information networks which serve farmers and ranchers and those with whom they regularly interact--the extension services, local governments, banks, and farmers' organizations. The proliferation of computer-based i n f o r m a t i o n systems a v a i l a b l e t o t h e farmer i s bound t o impact n o t o n l y t h e b u s i n e s s o p e r a t i o n s b u t many of t h e p e r s o n a l l i v i n g p a t t e r n s a s w e l l . R e l a t i o n s h i p s w i t h F e d e r a l , S t a t e , and c o u n t r y government a g r i c u l t u r a l s p e c i a l i s t s may be a f f e c t e d , and t h e t r a d i t i o n a l r o l e s of t h e s e organizations altered. Consider t h e s e q u e s t i o n s which must be a d d r e s s e d 31 i n t h e y e a r s t o come: o o o W i l l new i n f o r m a t i o n systems be used t o i n c r e a s e t h e c a p a c i t y of t h e county e x t e n s i o n s e r v i c e t o s e r v e farm and nonfarm c l i e n t s , o r w i l l they r e p l a c e t h e t r a d i t i o n a l e x t e n s i o n d e l i v e r y system f o r c e r t a i n t y p e s of i n f o r m a t i o n ? W i l l t h e a d o p t i o n of new i n f o r m a t i o n t e c h n o l o g i e s req u i r e E x t e n s i o n t o make tough c h o i c e s about t h e audiences i t w i l l serve? Should S t a t e i n s t i t u t i o n s c o p y r i g h t and f r a n c h i s e t h e i r s o f t w a r e o r do t h e y have an o b l i g a t i o n t o s h a r e i t with others? And perhaps most b a s i c i n t h e minds of t h e p o t e n t i a l u s e r c l i e n t e l e : A t what p o i n t i n t h e system may an i n d i v i d u a l g a i n a c c e s s t o d e s i r e d i n f o r m a t i o n , from which r e s o u r c e , and a t what c o s t ? A number of v i t a l i n s t i t u t i o n a l i s s u e s w i l l have t o be f a c e d , b o t h i n t h e Congress and t h e sundry implementing a g e n c i e s comprising t h e Federal-State-local t r i a d , i n c l u d i n g t h e s e t h r e e s p e c i f i c cnncerns t h a t were i d e n t i f i e d i n t h e Subcommittee b o o k l e t prepared f o r d i s t r i b u t i o n d u r i n g t h e aforementioned h e a r i n g : A/ F i r s t . t h e a p p r o p r i a t e r o l e f o r t h e F e d e r a l government i n i n f o r m a t i o n technology r e s e a r c h and development m e r i t s r e e v a l u a t i o n i n view of changing c o n d i t i o n s . Second, t h e r o l e of F e d e r a l and S t a t e a g e n c i e s i n t r a i n i n g p e r s o n n e l t o use t h e new t e c h n o l o g i e s should be d e f i n e d . T h i r d , t h e development of approaches t o improve c o o p e r a t i o n between t h e v a r i o u s F e d e r a l and S t a t e a g e n c i e s involved . i n i n f o r m a t i o n technology d e s e r v e s c o n s i d e r a t i o n . 3-1 U.S. L i b r a r y of Congress. Congressional Research S e r v i c e . Computer-Based I n f o r m a t i o n Systems and S e r v i c e s f o r R u r a l America. A pamphlet produced by Robert L. Chartrand and A. Barry Carr f o r Hearings h e l d by t h e Subcommittee on Department O p e r a t i o n s , Research and Foreign A g r i c u l t u r e of t h e Houee Committee on A g r i c u l t u r e , May 19-20, 1982, p. 6 4 / C h a r t r a n d and C a r r , Computer-Based I n f o r m a t i o n Systems and S e r v i c e s f o r R n r a l America, p. 7 Repeatedly, there is an emphasis on raising the level of governmental performance: planning, programming, monitoring, budgeting. The In - Recovery of Confidence, John Gardner stresses that: 51 .. we must build into organizations, particularly in government, the evaluative processes that will permit us to judge performance. This means that government officials must be required to be specific about goals -that is, about outcomes that would have to be achieved to count a given activity successful; they must develop measures to determine whether those outcomes have occurred; and they must apply the measures systematically to performance-all to the end that they can say of any program, "It worked" or "It didn't work." [italics added] The Evolving Role of Information Technology A parallel pattern of change with far-reaching ramifications, including some for the agricultural community, has been that brought about by the cascading improvements in "information technologyn--computers, telecommunications, microfo m s , word processors, audio and video devices. During the past half-century, the impacts of these often astonishing tools and techniques have been felt in every segment of our business and personal lives. Listen to the optimistic prognostication of David Sarnoff, President of the Radio Corporation of America, as he spoke in 1927 of one such invention, "radiotelevision:" 6/ The possibilities of the new art are as boundless as the imagination. But this much is certain: in the sphere of communication man will forever seek a medium of transmission in pace with his thoughts and desires. 51 Gardner, John W. 1970.~. 40-41. The Recovery of Confidence. New York, Norton, 6 1 Remarks of David Sarnoff, President of RCA Corp., before the chicago Association of Commerce, June 8, 1927. Another form of " e l e c t r o n i c i n f o r m a t i o n p r o c e s s o r " soon was t o j o i n t h e a r r a y of "wizard machines," and i t s p o t e n t i a l i s noted i n t h e s e modest 7/ words of computer p i o n e e r Samuel Alexander, i n 1952: They may e n a b l e s c i e n c e , i n d u s t r y , and government t o t a c k l e l a r g e - s c a l e complex problems which h e r e t o f o r e c o u l d n o t be handled v e r y e f f e c t i v e l y i n t h e time allowed. They may e v e n t u a l l y reduce t h e n e c e s s i t y f o r c e n t r a l i z a t i o n and a t t e n d a n t overcrowding by perm i t t i n g t h e d i s p e r s a l of people and equipment witho u t s a c r i f i c i n g some of t h e advantages of c e n t r a l i z e d control. The o u t r e a c h and i n f o r m a t i o n a c c e s s a f f o r d e d by t h e s e t e c h n o l o g i e s , o f t e n used i n combination, e p i t o m i z e t h e changing n a t u r e of o u r s o c i e t y . The " I n f o r m a t i o n Age" has a r r i v e d , and i n s t i t u t i o n s and i n d i v i d u a l s everywhere a r e s t r i v i n g t o understand and cope w i t h i t . The dynamic n a t u r e of t h i s " i n f o r m a t i o n r e v o l u t i o n " can h a r d l y be o v e r s t a t e d f o r even a s s u c c e s s i v e groups of hardware o r s o f t w a r e a p p e a r on t h e s c e n e , t h e f u l l impact of o t h e r r e c e n t i n n o v a t i v e p r o d u c t s o r systems such as d i r e c t b r o a d c a s t s a t e l l i t e ( D B S ) , c a b l e s e r v i c e s , and f i b r e o p t i c s o r l a s e r s i s y e t t o be absorbed. The i n t r o d u c t i o n of such i n n o v a t o r y d e v i c e s o r methods p l a c e s s t r e s s e s upon e x i s t i n g r e l a t i o n s h i p s and r o u t i n e s ; i n t h i s r e g a r d , t h e words of Robert Boguslaw i n The New Utopians m e r i t r e c a l l : 8/ Computers a r e n o t found i n n a t u r e . They have t o be b u i l t . And t h e y must t a k e t h e i r p l a c e s w i t h i n a framework of e x i s t i n g s o c i a l systems. A d e c i s i o n t o p l a c e them w i t h i n a framework r e d e f i n e s e x i s t i n g system arrangements i n s i g n i f i c a n t ways. 71 Remarks of Samuel N. Alexander b e f o r e t h e E a s t e r n J o i n t Computer ~ o nefr e n c e , 1952. a/ 1965. p. Boguslaw, Robert. 182. New Utopians. Englewood C l i f f s , N.J.,Prentic_e-Hall. Information technology can perform many useful services for those who comprise the rural community: Speeding the transmission of information from the creator to the user; Sifting selectively, according to user profiles, through vast quantities of available information to obtain the most relevant material: Storing information, and in some cases raw data, so that concept terms and "keyword" indexes will allow rapid, precise retrieval; and Facilitating the dissemination of needed information to individual and orgaqizational users in the most expeditious fashion. The importance of public investment in the production (research) and dissemination (education) of key knowledge is underscored in a recent paper 91 by Nobel Laureate Economist Theodore Schultz. Entitled "Knowledge is Power in Agriculture," it stresses the criticality of promoting agricultural growth by improving the quality of farm people as economic agents. Those responsible for agricultural productivity must, in the present setting, draw upon the valuable lessons of the past even as they are stretching their horizons into the future. Bruce Catton wrote that:l~/ Americans were a people of whom much had been asked and to whom much had been given. and their rendezvous with destiny had fairly started--an ongoing destiny, to be partaken of and defined and a ~ ~ l i ein d different ways bv each generation in turn. Schultz, Theodore. Knowledge Is Power in Agriculture. Challenge, September-October 1981. p. 1-12. la/ Catton, Bruce and William B. The Bold and Magnificent Dream. Doubleday, 1978, Garden City, New York. p. 465 Today, t h e d e b a t e c e n t e r s i n c r e a s i n g l y on t h e b e s t means of obt a i n i n g needed d a t a - m a r k e t , w e a t h e r , p e s t - o r i e n t e d , trade-offs vices. i n h e r e n t i n a c q u i r i n g technology-supported etc.--and the information ser- The t e c h n o l o g i e s now b e i n g t e s t e d o r used o p e r a t i o n a l l y t o d i s s e m i n a t e i n f o r m a t i o n t o more remote a r e a s a r e o n l y t h e l e a d i n g edge of systems a l r e a d y under development. S i g n i f i c a n t , proven a d v a n t a g e s have been d e r i v e d from t h e m i n i a t u r i z a t i o n of components i n computers and telecommunications and a n u n r e m i t t i n g t r e n d toward l e s s c o s t l y configurations. Many m i s c o n c e p t i o n s can a r i s e r e g a r d i n g t h e e f f i c a c y and u t i l i t y of e x t e r n a l i n f o r m a t i o n which i s made a c c e s s i b l e t o t h e farming community. No magic i s wrought by t h e c o l l e c t i o n , e i t h e r w i t h i n government o r a s an e n t r e p r e n e u r i a l endeavor by a p r i v a t e s e c t o r " i n f o r m a t i o n p r o v i d e r , " and p o s s i b l e subsequent i n t e r p r e t i v e h a n d l i n g of n a r r a t i v e , g r a p h i c , o r s t a t i s t i c a l information. .. Norman Cousins c a u t i o n s t h a t : 11/ . . i n a computerized age. . t h e r e may be a tendency t o m i s t a k e d a t a f o r wisdom, j u s t a s t h e r e h a s always been a tendency t o confuse l o g i c w i t h v a l u e s , and i n t e l l i g e n c e w i t h i n s i g h t . Unobstructed a c c e s s t o f a c t s c a n produce u n l i m i t e d good o n l y i f i t i s matched by t h e d e s i r e and a b i l i t y t o f i n d o u t what t h e y mean and where t h e y would l e a d . . I n t e r a c t i o n s I n v o l v i n g A g r i c u l t u r a l i s t s and The I n f o r m a t i o n Community I n contemporary America, t h e r e a r e s e v e r a l f o c a l developments which embody key f a c e t s of i n t e r a c t i o n between f a r m e r s and r a n c h e r s and t h o s e e n t i t i e s which a r e r e s p o n s i b l e f o r a c q u i r i n g , i n d e x i n g , a b s t r a c t i n g , s t r o i n g , 111 Pylyshyn, Zenon W., ed. P e r s p e c t i v e s on t h e Computer Revolution. ~ n ~ l e w o oCdl i f f s , N. J.., P r e n t i c e - H a l l , 1970. p. 4 9 9 processing, retrieving, and disseminating selected information of proven value to that user community: o During the 1970s counties with no settlement as large as 2,500 persons and not adjacent to a metropolitan area grew by 14.6 percent, faster than the metropolitan growth rate, the rural population increased by 5.9 million persons. 121 o Although the emphasis on productivity has continued unabated, and technologies have been utilized to that end to the utmost, there appears to be a growing feeling that the role of technology-supported information services can become critical in improving the management and hence the productivity of farming units. o For those living at "the end of the road," who often see themselves as being informationally disadvantaged, any move toward establishing a better balance in the offering of advanced information services is viewed with enthusiasm, although this may place new burdens on Federal services and local government. o The "internationalization" of American agriculture, which had its genesis nearly a decade ago, has included the creation of an awareness on the part of the American farmer--through such services as AGNET--of market opportunities akin to those exising in an adjoining county or State in earlier periods. Since new information systems are generated as the result of a clearly urgent need as expressed by the users, or come about due to an entrepreneurial belief that there is a market for them, experience has shown that their usefulness should be assessed regularly. In his book Society as a Learning Machine, former Science Advisor to the President Dr. Jerome Wiesner pointed out that "any learning process requires feedback of information for a comparison of the accomplishment with the goal." With the advent of on-line technology, this monitoring can be achieved much more easily than in the past. 131 - 121 Long, Larry, and Diana DeAre. Repopulating the Countryside: A 1980 Census Trend. Science, v. 217, September 17, 1982. p. 1112, 1114 131 Wiesner, Jerome. ~~ril-24, 1966. p. 15 Society As a Learning Machine. The New York Times, The t e c h n o l o g i e s now b e i n g used o p e r a t i o n a l l y t o d i s s e m i n a t e i n f o r m a t i o n t o more remote a r e a s a r e b u t t h e l e a d i n g edge of more advanced systems. With t h e i m p r e s s i v e advantages gained through t h e m i n i a t u r i z a t i o n of components, b o t h i n computers and telecommunications, and t h e c o n t i n u i n g t r e n d toward l e s s e x p e n s i v e c o n f i g u r a t i o n s , t h e number of i n d i v i d u a l s and o r g a n i z a t i o n s a b l e t o purchase o r l e a s e t h e new systems grows apace. Government and s o c i e t y a l i k e a r e b e i n g changed a s a r e s u l t of t h e s e developments. A thought-provoking o b s e r v a t i o n on t h i s phenomenon was made by t h e l a t e Marshall ~ c ~ u h a n : l g / The medium, o r p r o c e s s , . of our time--electronic technology--is r e s h a p i n g and r e s t r u c t u r i n g p a t t e r n s of s o c i a l interdependence and e v e r y a s p e c t of o u r p e r s o n a l l i f e . I t i s f o r c i n g us t o r e c o n s i d e r and r e e v a l u a t e p r a c t i c a l l y every thought, every a c t i o n , and e v e r y i n s t i t u t i o n f o r m e r l y t a k e n f o r g r a n t e d . It i s a p p a r e n t t o t h o s e d e v e l o p i n g a s w e l l a s u s i n g t h e e v o l v i n g i n f o r - mation r e s o u r c e s and s e r v i c e s t h a t t h e i n t e g r a t i o n of t h e new d e v i c e s and t e c h n i q u e s i n t o e s t a b l i s h e d r o u t i n e s w i l l t a k e time, and i n many i n s t a n c e s w i l l cause u n a n t i c i p a t e d changes i n t h e ways of doing t h i n g s . This c a l l s f o r c a r e f u l thought t o be g i v e n t o t h e scope and n a t u r e of t h e o r i e n t a t i o n s e s s i o n s where new u s e r s f i r s t h e a r and l e a r n about how t h e systems work, what i s expected of them a s u s e r s , and t o whom they can t u r n f o r a s s i s t a n c e when problems occur. The importance of good t r a i n i n g and follow-through u s e r a s s i s t a n c e p r o c e d u r e s can n e v e r be o v e r s t a t e d . 1 4 / McLuhan, M a r s h a l l . ~ e w y o r k ,1967. p. 8. The Medium i s The Massage. Bantam Books, The Stakeholders Involved in Advanced Information Systems for Rural America Any examination of the groups involved in the creation, maintenance, and utilization of technology-based information services designed to support the farming and ranching communities reveals a diverse set of private and governmental institutions, as well as individuals and families. These include: Individual or f amily-owned farms and ranches Ilgri-business corporations Newspapers Television and radio stations Banks University and college agricultural departments Town and county governmental units Telephone and satellite utilities Federal, State and local extension services Associations and farm organizations Each of these has a special stake in the effective introduction and functioning of better rural information systems. Quite often, there are interlocking activities which, if properly carried out, can serve to benefit several of the participating groups simultaneously. There will be times when communication--in the traditional sense--will be improved, perhaps to the same extent as when the telephone became widely used. In terms of the marketplace, particularly the handling of crops and livestock, the timeliness of information afforded by these services can be vital. J u s t h a v i n g more i n f o r m a t i o n i s n o t , of c o u r s e , t h e answer t o e v e r y o n e ' s problems, b u t new a c t i o n a l t e r n a t i v e s a r e coming t o l i g h t . Those w i t h a r e a l need f o r b e t t e r (and sometimes more) i n f o r m a t i o n must b e r e a d y t o go t h r o u g h an " e d u c a t i o n " p r o c e s s of s o r t s . T h i s may i n v o l v e a s h i f t i n p r i o r i t i e s , i n c l u d i n g how t i m e i s s p e n t and s p e c i f i c a l l y what t y p e s of i n f o r m a t i o n a r e c r i t i c a l t o t h e management of t h e i r o p e r a t i o n . Any change i n v o l v e s an element o f r i s k , b u t a s P e t e r Drucker ( i n Management S c i e n c e ) c o u n s e l l e d n e a r l y 25 y e a r s ago: ". . . while i t i s f u t i l e t o try t o e l i m i n a t e r i s k , and q u e s t i o n a b l e t o t r y t o minimize i t , i t i s e s s e n t i a l t h a t t h e r i s k s t a k e n be t h e r i g h t r i s k s . " l 5-/ The r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f o r d e t e r m i n i n g p r i o r i t i e s and program t h r u s t s i s one which w i l l n e c e s s a r i l y b e s h a r e d by a n a r r a y of o r g a n i z a t i o n s i n b o t h t h e p u b l i c and p r i v a t e s e c t o r s . 15 1 D r u c k e r , P e t e r F. Long-Range P l a n n i n g : i n Management S c i e n c e , v. 5 , 1959. p . 240 C h a l l e n g e t o Management S c i e n c e , 11. INFORMATI3N TECHNOLXY APJD ITS APPLICATION IN AGRICULTURE Uhen the European settlers established their first colonies on the shores of America in the early seventeenth century, they brought with them the tools, seeds, and agricultural technology of the old world. In their first contacts with the native American Indian, they were exposed to the tools, seeds and agricultural technology of the new world. The older colonies in New England and Virginia became the first "experiment stations" where the old and the new were tried and proven, and the practical information thus obtained was sought by and shared with settlers at the newer colonies. In the earliest days information was exchanged among farmers, and almost all of the settlers lived on small farms. That is to say, people traveled from place to place obtaining needed supplies and information on a one-to-one basis. Hand-carried letters rere another means of transmitting information. Newspapers eventually became the first mass media, and given the nature of the times, agricultural information was a prominent feature of these publications. In the late eighteenth century, books--for example, The Old Farmers Almanac, published in Sterling, Massachusetts, in 1792--became important sources of agricultural information. The herican Farmer magazine, which began publication in Baltimore in 1819 at a cost of $4.00 per annum, stated its purpose: "to collect information fron every source, systems, . . . to enable the reader to study the various . . . and to put him in possession of that knowledge and skill." Besides articles on the main subject of the paper, it promised original essays "for amusement and instruction, substantial detail of passing occurrences--and ...a faithful account of the actual prices" of principal farm comodities for sale in the Baltimore market. It s e e m worth pointing out that the explosion of publications in early America was certainly facilitated by the use of a connon language--English. ,41- though many tongues were spoken by early Americans, and early publications reflected such diverse readerships, English rapidly became the universal language. Computer-based information systems have not had the advantage of a universal programing language. Americans early expressed an interest in science. The American Philosophical Society, the first significant scientific society in America, was founded in 1 7 4 3 . The first society devoted entirely to agriculture was the Philadelphia Society for Promoting Agriculture, formed in 1735 by a group of citizens, only a few of whom were actually farmers. Many local agricultural societies were thereafter orga- nized throughout the United States. The beginning of involvement in scientific agriculture by the U.S. Government is traced to activities of the U.S. Patent Office in 1839 when the Congress appropriated $1,000 for collecting agricultural statistics, conducting agricultural investigations, and distributing seeds. The agricultural collections of the Patent Office library are said to be the beginnings of the National Agricultural Library, now maintained by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. By 1 8 5 9 there was general dissatisfaction on the part of the Congress and the public with the activities of the agricultural department of the Patent Office. President Lincoln's first annual message to the Congress suggested that "annual reports exhibiting the condition of our agriculture, commerce and manufactures would present a fund of information of great practical value to the country." Congress responded the fol- lowing year with an act establishing the U.S. Department of Agriculture. he Act of 1 8 6 2 instructs the USDA to "acquire and diffuse among the people of the united States useful information on subjects connected with agriculture in the most general and comprehensive sense of that word." At the same time Congress was establishing the U.S. Department of Agriculture, it began a series of Acts which collectively created the Land-Grant University system. The %orrill Act of 1862 provided land or funding to each State to endow, support, and maintain at least one college to teach, among other subjects, agriculture. This was followed in 1587 by the Hatch Act which established State agricultural experiment stations for the purpose of "acquiring and diffusing among the people of the United States useful and practical information on subjects connected with agriculture." Additional funding was provided to States by the Second Xorrill Act of 1890, for the establishment of a separate colle3e "for the education of colored students in agriculture and the mechanical arts." And finally, the Smith-Lever Act of 1914 created a Federal-State-local government partnership to carry out a program of extension work designed not only to diffuse useful and practical informtion relating to agriculture and home economics, but also to "encourage the application of the same." Although mass media were being provided an ever-increasing stream of information from Federal agencies, State universities, and other sources, the problem of serving a geographically isolated farm population with timely information still remained. Initfally farm families could only receive newspapers and magazines i~henthey visited the nearest large town or city. The first step toward bringing the world to the farm came when Postmaster William L. Wilson ordered that mail would be delivered directly to farm homes. Rural free delivery ( W D ) began in 1895 in West Virginia and was enlarged to include all rural residents, as successive Congresses provided funds. This meant that newspapers, magazines, and books could be sent directly to rural residents and at very low cost. Although Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone in 1876, it was many years before its benefits were fully available to rural residents. Again it was geographic isolation, and the dispersed nature of farm population, which caused the private sector to consider telephone service to rural areas an unprofitable business investment. In the early days farmers banded together to form small, mu- tual (cooperative) telephone companies to serve their areas. Soon, however, the heavy capital costs associated with a nodern telephone network were beyond the means of most rural telephone systems. 'The poor service caused by equipment obsolescence was a major problem. Fewer farmers had telephones in 1940 than in 1920. In 1949, Cbngress authorized an agency of the USDA, the Rural Electrification Administration (REA), to make loans "to assure the avail- ability of adequate telephone service to the widest practical number of rural users." At that time only 38 percent of all farms had telephone service. Although the first successful radio station, KDKA Pittsburgh, went on the air in 1920, the full benefits of radio, and later television, could not be available to farmers until their homes were electrified. by electric utility companies. In 1920 almost no farms were served According to the 1930 census,9 percent of the farms were served by utility companies and another 4 percent generated their own electricity. Because of the low density of farm population, farmers were charged higher rates for electrical service, and the extension of service was slow. In 1935 President Franklin Roosevelt established REA by Executive order for the purpose of making loans to local organizations to finance the distribution, generation, and transmission of electric power to unserved rural persons. Although nearly half of all farms and ranches still lacked electrical service by the end of the Second World War, today 99 percent of all farms receive electrical service. The first all-purpose, all-electronic computer was developed in 1946, but commercial computers did not begin to appear on Land-Grant University campuses until about 1960. Agricultural research and Extension workers were among the first to use this new technology. By the early 1960s, a number of state uni- versities had in operation computer-based recordkeeping and farm management programs for farmers, and linear programing models were baing used on a regular basis. This early exposure of farmers to computer information management set the stage for the ready adoption of terminals and personal computers on the farm in the 1980s. Current Information Technology in Agriculture In focusing on the application of current information technology to a range of farm-related activities, it is helpful to delineate the types of information which are normally used in the daily personal lives and business operations of those who farm and ranch: News and cornunity service information--what's happening; Weather forecasts and related emergency or disaster information; Crop and livestock production information, including pest management, irrigation water management, and feeding recommendations; Marketing information, including current and future prices; Selling of farm products through teleauction or computer auction Purchasing farm and home supplies, including teleshopping; Banking services, including lending and cash management; 8. Business management including recordkeeping, budgeting, and planning ; 9. Information concerning farm and public policy including regulations; and 10. Personal education and entertainment. Farm families have available to them an unprecedented variety of sources of information and services such as those just listed. One major type of information service is the public or tax-supported sector, consisting of Federal, State, and local agencies. The USDA is still a major source of technical information about the production and marketing of farm commodities as well as home economics. The National Weather Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce collects, interprets, and distributes weather data. State agencies and institutions, including the research and extension components'of the Land-Grant Universities, and the Crop Reporting Services, are also an important source of production, management, and marketing information. At the local level, libraries, county Extension Offices, and the local school system, including community colleges, are major sources of information. Local institutions tend to be places where information from other sources is stored and retrieved for local users, or where information is conveyed through formal educational processes such as group lectures. A second major category of information service is the private sector. Here, businesses or not-for-profit organizations provide information for a fee which may be paid by the user or an advertiser, or shared by both. In some cases private sector information sources are called mass media because the individual has no direct control over the content of the information presented; for example, newspapers, magazines, radio, and television. ?lass media can make large quantities of information available to large numbers of people at a low cost per person. However, i t i s o f t e n n o t a s i m p l e t a s k f o r t h e u s e r t o s i f t t h r o u g h t h i s mass t o obtain the p a r t i c u l a r information desired. When a N a t i o n a l O p i n i o n R e s e a r c h C e n t e r s u r v e y a s k e d f a r m e r s i f t h e y were d i s s a t i s f i e d w i t h t h e i r c u r r e n t s o u r c e s of i n f o r m a t i o n , t h e i r most f r e q u e n t c c n r p l a i n t i n v o l v e d a l a c k of c o n f i d e n c e i n a c c u r a c y and r e l i a b i l i t y . Information r e c e i v e d from government s o u r c e s was sometimes f e l t t o be p o l i t i c a l l y s l a n t e d . A v a i l a b l e i n f o r m a t i o n o f t e n d i d n o t a p p l y t o t h e p a r t i c u l a r t y p e of f a r m o r geog r a p h i c a r e a , was t o o g e n e r a l o r vague, t o o o l d o r o u t d a t e d , o r i t w a s t o o c o s t l y o r d i f f i c u l t t o obtain. Yet i n s p i t e of t h e s e c o m p l a i n t s , most f a r m e r s e x p r e s s e d t h e b e l i e f t h a t t h e i r p r o d u c t i o n and m a r k e t i n g problems c o u l d be a l l e v i a t e d i f t h e y had a c c e s s t o t h e s p e c i f i c i n f o r m a t i o n t h e y needed. With t h e a d v e n t of computer t e c h n o l o g y , and a s s o c i a t e d d a t a t r a n s m i s s i o n t e c h n o l o g i e s , i t h a s r e c e n t l y become f e a s i b l e t o o f f e r u s e r s d i r e c t a c c e s s t o i n f o r m a t i o n b a s e s from remote l o c a t i o n s s u c h a s t h e i r home o r o f f i c e . Some of t h e s e i n f o r m a t i o n b a s e s may c o n t a i n a narrow r a n g e of d a t a r e l a t e d t o a s p e c i f i c t o p i c , as f o r example t h e C R I S s y s t e m which l i s t s a g r i c u l t u r a l r e s e a r c h c u r r e n t l y i n progress. O t h e r s y s t e m s may o f f e r l a r g e c o l l e c t i o n s of d a t a b a s e s networked f o r a c c e s s t h r o u g h a s i n g l e s e r v i c e , a s f o r example The S o u r c e s y s t e m o r AGNET. But i n e i t h e r c a s e , u s e r s , e q u i p p e d w i t h a t e r m i n a l o r p e r s o n a l computer t o a c c e s s t h e s y s t e m ' s main computer and a p r i n t e r o r a t u b e t o d i s p l a y t h e r e s u l t s , c a n q u i c k l y s e a r c h huge c o l l e c t i o n s of d a t a , r e t r i e v e what i s u s e f u l , a n d c a r r y o u t w h a t e v e r m a n i p u l a t i o n s of t h e d a t a a r e n e c e s s a r y t o answer t h e i r q u e s t i o n s o r s o l v e t h e i r problems. F a r m e r s who have p u r c h a s e d computers a g r e e t h a t t h e b i g g e s t problem i s f i n d i n g u s e f u l programs. F o r w h i l e minicomputers a r e w i t h i n t h e p r i c e r a n g e of most farmers, without proper programming the units are of little value. should provide more than just basic information. Systems Successful systems also pro- vide the means for analysis of information in ways which assist farmers in their management decisions. It takes not only hardware and software, but also human and financial resources to build and market a viable computer-based information system. Because there are significant costs associated with the development and maintenance of computer-based information systems, users are usually charged a fee before access to the system is granted and a second fee based upon the extent of their usage. These costs have often discouraged commercial firms, leaving the burden of development to State universities and government agencies. R o w e r , it can be expected that, as the technology is perfected, the private sector will play an increasingly important role in computer-based information systems. What Does the Future Hold? The computer-based information revolution in agriculture is based upon three major forms of technology: 1. Interactive computer systems which involve medium to large computers with powerful computational and information access capability. Users are usually connected to the main computer via terminals and telephones. 2. Videotex systems involving small to medium computers designed to provide a wide range of information. Users require a video device provided with a terminal and telephone system. 3. Microcomputer systems on site in offices or homes can meet the data processing needs of most users in addition to interfacing with large time-sharing systems and many videotex systems. The availability of quality software is important. New information technology is changing the form in which farm families receive information. Increasingly, information is being brought to the user, via terminal or television; the user no longer has to go to the information. courses can take place in the home instead of the classroom. placed with programmed learning sequences on terminals. Formal Lectures can be re- Even the tried-and-true Extension demonstration can be videotaped and made available to farm families in their homes and at their convenience. More and more, Extension bulletins and re- search reports, as well as magazines and even newpapers, will be available as videotex on home television rather than delivered in hardcopy. Even person-to- person communications now limited to personal visits, telephone or letter, will be handled--when speed and convenience are important--through "electronic mailboxes" provided by many computer-based systems. The penetration of computerbased information technologies into the farm scene raises some vexing social questions. The basic policy issue is: At what point in the system may an individual gain access to desired information, from which source, and at what cost? Promoting equality in this dimension is a major challenge for both public and private sectors. The emergence of new information technologies may also have important consequences for traditional agricultural information institutions. Will the new information systems be used to increase the capacity of the county Extension service to serve farm and nonfarm clients, or will they replace the traditional Extension delivery system for certain types of information? Should State institutions copyright and franchise their software, or do they have an obligation to share it with others? Will the important role of farm magazines and other publications be diminished? Much has been written about the present "Age of Information" and the emphasfs has been on the array of electronic devices which can store, process, retrieve and distribute information at incredible speeds and in a variety of forms. Literally hundreds of people at universities, on farms, and elsewhere are at work developing software and data collections to utilize this technology. 3ne can hardly pick up a farm magazine today which does not contain an article about computers for the farm. Dr. Robert Kramer, of the Kellogg Foundation, predicts that three-quarters of the comercia1 farms and 90 percent of the county Extension offices will be equipped with computers or intelligent terminals by 1990. While this prediction may seem far-fetched to some people, the information technology revolution is impacting the farm sector right now. The electronic technology already exists. 111. CHRONOLOGY OF SELECTED EVENTS Although information technology has been evolving since the dawn of civilization, many persons believe that recent developments indicate an "information revolution" is underway. A brief review of significant events is helpful in developing a perspective on where anricultural information technology is today, and how we got here. The following is a selected sampling of significant events in the history of the United States, including recent Federal initiatives, that have influenced the utilization of new information systems fn American agriculture. 1743 The American Philosophical Society, the earliest society in the United States to promote scientific agriculture, is organized. 1785 The Philadelphia Society for the Promotion of Agriculture is founded. 1790 The New England Farmer by Samuel Dean, which became a standard textbook on American agraiculture, is published. 1792 The Old Farmers Almanac is founded and published by Robert Thomas at Sterling, Massachusetts. It is one of the oldest running periodicals in the United States. 1819 The American Farmer magazine begins publication in Baltimore. 1831 Many schools and colleges begin to offer courses in agriculture and sciences helpful to agriculture. 1837 Samuel Morse develops the first practical telegraph machine and filed for a patent. 1840 For the first time the U.S. Census includes questions on agriculture. 1858 First successful trans-Atlantic telegraph cable completed. 1860 First pony express mail route between St. Louis and Sacramento. 1875 Frank Baldwin is granted first U.S. patent for a practical calculating machine that performs the four arithmetic functions. 1876 Alexander Graham Bell invents the telephone. 1881 First long-distance telephone line placed into service between Yew York and Chicago. 1895 Guglielmo Marconi invents the wireless telegraph (radio). 1896 Postmaster William L. Wilson orders rural free delivery (RFD) of mail. KDKA (Pittsburgh) becomes first successful radio station. Charles Jenkins invents the television. President Franklin Roosevelt establishes Rural Electrification Administration by executive order. Eckert and Mauchly invent and develop first all purpose, all electronic digital computer, the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Calculator. Transistors perfected.which replace vacuum tubes and improve speed and efficiency in moving electrons. Computer tabulated farm record/management systems begun by Michigan State University and several other Land-Grant Universities. Tiros satellites send back pictures of hurricanes and cloud movements. TELPLAN information system implemented by Michigan Extension Service. Low cost, limited capacity "micro-computers" are introduced. Chase Econometrics markets simulation model of U.S. agricultural economy. TELCOT system for computerized marketing of cotton begins with 15 buying terminals in Lubbock, Dallas, and Memphis. AGNET information system established at University of Nebraska. National Agricultural Library combines all bibliographic data bases into on-line AGRICOLA system. Regional Energy Environment Information Center established at Denver Public Library. 1980 Computerized system for sale of livestock begun by Electronic Marketing Association with 23 terminals throughout the Eastern seaboard. 1981 Iowa Beef Processors establishes a satellite voice communication system. 1982 U.S. Department of Agriculture begins electronic dissemination of news releases and reports. 1982 Federal Communications Commission adopts interim rules for the licensing and operation of direct broadcast satellite. Coneressional Initiatives Congress appropriates $1,000 to the Patent Office for collecting agricultural statistics, conducting agricultural investigations, and distributing seeds. Library is begun which later becomes the National Agricultural Library. President Abraham Lincoln signs legislation which created the U.S. Department of Agriculture. President Lincoln approves the Morril Land-Grant College Act. Hatch Act establishes State Agricultural Experiment Stations. The Smith-Lever Act formalizes cooperative extension work. Congress authorizes Rural Electrification Administration to make loans to rural telephone companies. Vocational Education Act (P.L. 90-576) provides basis for subsequent communications demonstration experiments. Rural Development Act (P.L. 92-419) establishes pilot program for rural development and small farm research and education to be administered through the Land-Grant Institutions. Federal Program Information Act (P.L. 95-220) transfers Federal Assistance Program Retrieval System (FAPRS) from USDA to OMB. Subcommittee on Communications of Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation holds hearings to examine potential applications of telecommunications technology. Public Telecommunications Financing Act (P.L. 95-567) establishes Public Telecommunications Facilities Program. 1980 Paperwork Reeducation Act (P.L. 96-511) strengthens agency information management procedures. 1982 House Subcommittee on Department Operations, Research, and Foreign Agriculture holds hearings on computer-based information systems for agriculture. IV. ILLUSTRATIVE INFORMATION SYSTEMS FOR AGRICULTURE A s w i t h many s e c t o r s of t h e U.S. economy, farm income i s o f t e n dependent upon t h e a v a i l a b i l i t y of a c c u r a t e , up-to-date t i v e decision-making. information necessary f o r effec- There e x i s t s i n t h e United S t a t e s today a w e a l t h of i n f o r m a t i o n on a g r i c u l t u r e and r e l a t e d s u b j e c t s , a l o n g w i t h an expanding foundation of computer-based systems and t e l e c o m u n i c a t i o n s networks t o p r o c e s s and d i s t r i b u t e t h e s e d a t a . Yet i n many i n s t a n c e s , t h e s e i n f o r m a t i o n d e l i v e r y systems a r e n o t e a s i l y a c c e s s i b l e t o a l l members of t h e a g r i c u l t u r a l community, p a r t i c u l a r l y limited-resource farmers. I n r e c e n t y e a r s , Extension a g e n t s , farm a s s o c i a t i o n s , and USDA o f f i c i a l s have e x p r e s s e d growing concern over how t o c o r r e c t t h i s imbalance through t h e t i m e l y d e l i v e r y of low-cost i n f o r m a t i o n t o a l l of t h e N a t i o n ' s f a r m e r s and ranchers. D e s p i t e a wary a t t i t u d e on b e h a l f of t h e a g r i c u l t u r a l community, t h e momentum f o r p r o v i d i n g computer-based i n f o r m a t i o n s e r v i c e s t o t h e a g r i c u l t u r a l s e c t o r i s s t e a d i l y increasing a s farmers a r e r e a l i z i n g t h e f i n a n c i a l advantages t o be gained by i n t e g r a t i n g t h e s e systems i n t o t h e i r o p e r a t i o n s . C u r r e n t l y , both t h e p u b l i c and p r i v a t e s e c t o r s a r e becoming a c t i v e l y i n v o l v e d i n t h e development of o n - l i n e a g r i c u l t u r a l d a t a b a s e s , farm management s o f t w a r e , e l e c t r o n i c t r a d i n g systems, v i d e o t e x t systems, and e l e c t r o n i c messaging networks. A s e l e c t i o n of systems demonstrating t h e s e v a r i o u s a p p l i c a t i o n s a p p e a r s i n S e c t i o n A. S e c t i o n B c o n t a i n s a comprehensive l i s t i n g of o p e r a t i o n a l and e x p e r i m e n t a l a g r i c u l t u r a l i n f o r m a t i o n systems i n t h e United S t a t e s , followed by a map d e p i c t i n g t h e c e n t e r s of o p e r a t i o n s f o r t h e s e programs. (Figure 2 ) A. S e l e c t e d Systems Demonstrating Various Technological A p p l i c a t i o n s 1. I n t e r a c t i v e Systems w i t h Farm Management Software AGNET - T h i s " A g r i c u l t u r a l Network" i s a time-sharing information d e l i v e r y system designed t o f u r n i s h management a n a l y s i s of complex a g r i c u l t u r a l problems on t h e b a s i s of f i e l d e x p e r i e n c e and knowledge of c u r r e n t r e s e a r c h findings. Developed i n 1975 by D r . James Kendrick and D r . Thomas C. Thompson of t h e U n i v e r s i t y of Nebraska, AGNET c u r r e n t l y c o n t a i n s more t h a n 200 programs which a r e a c c e s s e d by s u b s c r i b e r s i n more t h a n 40 s t a t e s . The problem-solving c a p a b i l i t y of t h e v a r i o u s programs o f f e r s a s s i s t a n c e i n such a r e a s a s l i v e s t o c k and crop p r o d u c t i o n , g r a i n h a n d l i n g , marketing and f i n a n c e , and home economics. For example, a s p e c i f i c program can manipulate an i n d i v i d u a l farm's r e c o r d s t o a n a l y z e t h e c o s t and r e t u r n f o r f e e d e r c a t t l e . Another important f e a t u r e i s t h e e l e c t r o n i c m a i l o r message r e l a y system; t h e MAILBOX program a l l o w s t h e sender t o r o u t e communications t o a s i n g l e u s e r o r a p r e d e f i n e d l i s t of u s e r s . AGNET a l s o p r o v i d e s a c c e s s t o USDA crop and l i v e s t o c k r e p o r t s a s w e l l a s t r a d e l e a d s i s s u e d by t h e F o r e i g n A g r i c u l t u r a l S e r v i c e . B e s i d e s t h e c o s t of a p o r t a b l e computer t e r m i n a l , most u s e r s spend about $10 p e r hour f o r computer use. T h i s c o s t i s based on a charge f o r being connected t o t h e computer p l u s a charge f o r p r o c e s s i n g time. Any r e g u l a r t e l e p h o n e l i n e can be used t o a c c e s s AGNET, although long d i s t a n c e t e l e p h o n e charges may c o s t two t o t h r e e times t h e amount s p e n t f o r computer t i m e . CMN - - Developed by t h e V i r g i n i a P o l y t e c h n i c I n s t i t u t e and S t a t e U n i v e r s i t y a s a n a t i o n a l i n f o r m a t i o n system f o r use by S t a t e Extension s e r v i c e s , t h e "Computerized Management Network" a s s i s t s Extension workers i n s o l v i n g problems, r e t r i e v i n g i n f o r m a t i o n , and e v a l u a t i n g programs. To d a t e , many CMN programs have p r o v i d e d t h e f o u n d a t i o n f o r s e v e r a l h i g h l y s u c c e s s f u l Extension s e r v i c e s . Two of t h e most p o p u l a r a r e : t h e S i m p l i f i e d D a i r y C a t t l e F e e d i n g Program which h a s had a s u b s t a n t i a l impact on t h e economics of f e e d i n g d a i r y h e r d s ; and t h e OUTLK program which p r o v i d e s u s e r a c c e s s t o USDA1s Computerized Outlook I n f o r mation Network (COIN) , a s y s t e m c o n t a i n i n g t h e Department ' s c r o p and l i v e s t o c k The CMN s y s t e m i s d e s i g n e d t o be used by non-computer reports. trained in- d i v i d u a l s and i s c u r r e n t l y a c c e s s e d by more t h a n 500 u s e r s i n 44 s t a t e s and Canada. Honeywell's t i m e - s h a r i n g s y s t e m , DATANETWORK, s u p p l i e s computer and communications s u p p o r t f o r CMN u s e r s ; s u b s c r i b e r s a c c e s s t h e s y s t e m w i t h computer terminals v i a telephone l i n e s . The c o s t s o f r u n n i n g CMN programs v a r y from $0.50 f o r v e r y s i m p l e problem-solving models. t o $15 f o r complex l i n e a r programming The c h a r g e f o r t e r m i n a l connect t i m e i n t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s i s $18 p e r G e n e r a l l y , l i g h t usage of t h e CMN s y s t e m c o s t s $15 p e r month, w h i l e moder- hour. a t e and heavy usage a v e r a g e s $50 p e r month and $300 p e r month, r e s p e c t i v e l y . 2. E l e c t r o n i c Trading EMA - E l e c t r o n i c a u c t i o n i n g f o r U.S. a g r i c u l t u r a l p r o d u c t s o r i g i n a t e d - w i t h t r a d i n g conducted v i a c o n f e r e n c e t e l e p h o n e c a l l s i n t h e 1960s -- one of t h e e a r l y " t e l e a u c t i o n s " s o l d s l a u g h t e r hogs from V i r g i n i a t o meat p a c k e r s i n V i r g i n i a and n e a r b y S t a t e s . g/ S i n c e t h e n , e l e c t r o n i c t r a d i n g h a s expanded t o i n e l u d e more s o p h i s t i c a t e d computerized s y s t e m s which can h a n d l e a h i g h e r volume of t r a d i n g a s w e l l a s bookkeeping f u n c t i o n s . An example of t h i s t y p e o f s y s t e m i s t h e E l e c t r o n i c Marketing A s s o c i a t i o n , I n c . of C h r i s t i a n s b u r g , Va., which h e l d i t s f i r s t computerized a u c t i o n f o r l i v e s t o c k i n 1980. The members of t h i s non- s t o c k c o r p o r a t i o n had e a r l i e r p a r t i c i p a t e d i n a p i l o t e l e c t r o n i c t r a d i n g program which r e s u l t e d i n h i g h e r p r i c e s f o r l i v e s t o c k and a d e c r e a s e i n t h e c o s t s of marketing. 1 6 1 U.S. Department of A g r i c u l t u r e . A g r i c u l t u r a l M a r k e t i n g S e r v i c e . The F e a s i b i l i t y of E l e c t r o n i c M a r k e t i n g f o r t h e Wholesale Meat Trade. AMS 583, May 1979. Washington, 1979. p. 24. Through a t e l e p h o n e hookup t o computer t e r m i n a l s i n any l o c a t i o n , b u y e r s and s e l l e r s are b r o u g h t t o g e t h e r a t a s p e c i f i c t i m e t o d e t e r m i n e t h e p r i c e , on a competitive b a s i s , of t h e animals being o f f e r e d f o r s a l e . The EMA s y s t e m p e r - m i t s p r o s p e c t i v e b u y e r s t o o b t a i n w r i t t e n d e s c r i p t i o n s on t h e a n i m a l s s e v e r a l hours before s a l e t i m e . During t h e a u c t i o n i t s e l f , t h e computer d r o p s t h e a s k i n g p r i c e u n t i l a b i d i s r e c e i v e d , t h e n c o n t i n u e s upward from t h a t p o i n t . A t the end of a s a l e , a h i g h b i d d e r r e c e i v e s a summary of h i s p u r c h a s e s p l u s a summary of t h e e n t i r e s a l e . P r e s e n t l y , EMA i s p r o v i d i n g computer a u c t i o n s e r v i c e s n o t o n l y t o t h e E a s t e r n Lamb P r o d u c e r s A s s o c i a t i o n o f V i r g i n i a , b u t a l s o t o two o t h e r lamb m a r k e t i n g c o o p e r a t i v e s l o c a t e d i n Wisconsin and I n d i a n a . 3. Videotext Green Thumb - Green Thumb, a n e x p e r i m e n t a l v i d e o t e x t p r o j e c t funded by t h e U.S. Department of A g r i c u l t u r e and t h e N a t i o n a l Weather S e r v i c e , began o p e r a t i o n i n two c o u n t i e s i n Kentucky i n March 1980. Two hundred p a r t i c i p a n t s r e c e i v e d d e c o d e r s which were c o n n e c t e d t o t h e i r home t e l e v i s i o n sets and t e l e p h o n e l i n e s and w e r e u s e d t o e n t e r and r e c e i v e i n f o r m a t i o n from microcomputers i n t h e counties' Extension o f f i c e s . (See F i g u r e 1 ) . From a "menu" of o p t i o n s , f a r m e r s c o u l d r e t r i e v e d a t a on w e a t h e r , f u t u r e s p r i c e s , and market c o n d i t i o n s t h r o u g h a v a r i e t y of i n f o r m a t i o n p r o v i d e r s i n c l u d i n g t h e Chicago Board of T r a d e , t h e N a t i o n a l Weather S e r v i c e , and t h e USDA A g r i c u l t u r a l M a r k e t i n g S e r v i c e . State and c o u n t y E x t e n s i o n a g e n t s c o u l d a l s o e n t e r i n f o r m a t i o n of l o c a l i n t e r e s t s u c h as home economic f e a t u r e s o r 4-H Club a c t i v i t i e s . Weather u p d a t e s r a n g e d from a n h o u r l y t o d a i l y b a s i s , w h i l e r e n e w a l of c r o p and l i v e s t o c k f u t u r e s ' d a t a was s c h e d u l e d e v e r y 1 5 m i n u t e s b u t g e n e r a l l y o c c u r r e d e v e r y 30 m i n u t e s . By f a r t h e most f r e q u e n t l y - r e q u e s t e d c a t e g o r i e s of i n f o r m a t i o n were m a r k e t i n g and w e a t h e r . A t t h e end o f t h e Green Thumb e x p e r i m e n t i n J u l y 1981, t h e S t a n f o r d U n i v e r s i t y I n s t i t u t e f o r Communication R e s e a r c h and t h e U n i v e r s i t y of Kentucky C o l l e g e of A g r i c u l t u r e e a c h s t u d i e d t h e impact of t h e v i d e o t e x t p r o j e c t on t h e f a r m e r s ' agricultural operations and assessed the technical aspects of the system. While users found the overall system to be workable, about half of the farmers experienced technical problems and two-thirds reported inadequate updating of information; thus, farmers tended to rely on more conventional sources of information such as newspapers and radio broadcasts. Due to these findihgs, efforts have been made to improve the reliability of the Green Thumb system. Currently, a videotext service is being offered to 20 farmers in Davis County, Kentucky under the direction of the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service. The project will be evaluated during the next few months to determine if reliability has improved and if the program should be continued. I-// Modified television receiver -0 Computer Information provider terminal ir Data base display generator User's keypad FIGURE I.-- Videotext via telephone line. 1g/ 171 Ragland, John. University of Kentucky. ~e%Fhone interview. July 26, 1982. Cooperative Extension Service. 181 Tydeman, John, and others. Teletext and Videotex in the United States: Market Potential, Technology, Public Policy Issues. (Institute for the Future, Menlo Park, Calif.). New York, Data Communications, McGraw-Hill, 1982. p. 5. CRS-32 4. Electronic Messaging USDA Electronic Mail Network - Based on the positive results of a yearlong test, the Governmental and Public Affairs of USDA began electronic dissemination of the Department's news releases and current reports through the DIALCOM electronic mail service in January 1982. The system was adopted in response to the need for more efficient communications between USDA and the Land-Grant University system and the State departments of agriculture; prior to the acceptance of DIALCOM, USDA officials relied on surface mail and telephone facsimile, both of which proved to be somewhat unsatisfactory for the rapid transmission of current information. Through the electronic mail service, an individual can send a message to the receiver's "electronic mailbox" where it is stored until that person is ready to receive and read the information. Additionally, the DIALCOM service provides the capability of handling automatic distribution lists as well as providing access to United Press International's national and international news files. The USDA electronic mail network supplies several categories of information. USDA ONLINE offers the "~ews"file, which contains nationally significant news releases, along with summaries of the various "outlook and situation reports" issued by the Economic Research Service and the "highlights of crop and livestock reports" issued by the Statistical Reporting Service. Another file, "FAS Reports", provides the Foreign Agricultural Service's weekly roundup of world agricultural production and trade. FAS trade leads, along with the "News" segment of USDA ONLINE are transmitted to the University of Nebraska's AGNET system.lg/ Plans are underway to include the full texts of crop, livestock, and outlook 1 reports on the DIALCOM system; these USDA reports are generated under the name of COIN (Computerized Outlook Information Network) and are available on the CMN 191 U.S. Department of Agriculture. Office of Governmental and Public "Krfairs. Report on U. S. Department of Agriculture Electronic Information Exchange and Dissemination. July 1982. Washington, 1982. p. 7, 12. s y s t e m under t h e OUTLK program. The USDA e l e c t r o n i c m a i l network w i l l n o t n e c e s s a r i l y r e p l a c e t r a d i o n a l methods of i n f o r m a t i o n d i s s e m i n a t i o n s u c h a s p r i n t e d p u b l i c a t i o n s and r a d i o b r o a d c a s t i n g t a p e s . R a t h e r , i t s p u r p o s e i s t o enhance t h e e f f e c t i v e n e s s o f USDA i n f o r m a t i o n d i s t r i b u t i o n by o f f e r i n g f a r m e r s and S t a t e and l o c a l a g r i c u l t u r a l o f f i c i a l s a means of o b t a i n i n g USDA r e p o r t s and news r e l e a s e s a s soon as t h e y a r e announced. R. Operational m d Experigental Systems in U.S. Operational System Name MCSys Sponsoring Organization Location Americcm Farm 8 S t a t e Farm Bureau Federation B u r e a u a d prtidpating members U. of Nebraaka more than 40 States nationvide . . . . Information and S e r v i c e s Provided Kcy Contact and Phone Number information r e t r i e v a l : market d a t a , v e a t h e r , pest management, l e g i s l a t i v e developments, s p e c i f i c advice from market a n a l y s t s , m. Kim Wells 312-399-5770 p r o b k s o l v i n g f o r farm nanagarcnt information r e t r i e v a l : USDA r e p o r t s on crops, l i v e s t o c k , markets, t r e n d s , and t r a d e l e a d s D r . James Kendrick 402-47 2-2033 . information retrieval: bibliographic c i t a t i o w M r . David Eoyt 202-334-4248 t o books, journal a r t i c l e s , govt. r e p o r t s i n f i e l d of a g r i c u l t u r e ANSW U. of Kentucky 25 Extension o f f i c e s in Kentucky . pmanagement r o b l e ~ s o l v i n gf o r farm . information retrieval: wciocconomic d a t a f o r Ur. John Byars 606-257-3335 counties in Kentucky Chase Econoret- Chase Econometrics rice Daestic Agricultural Service nationwide, Canada and Europe . V i r g i n i a Polytech- Extension ofn i c I m t i t u t e and f i c e s in 44 S t a t e University S t a t - Michigan S t a t e Univerrity . information retrieval: agricultural statis- Bxtenrion off i c e s in Uichigan . . t i c s , h i s t o r i c a l data, and f o r e c a s t information 'Agricultural Model': econometric rode1 f o r a g r i c u l t u r a l business aMlyses p r o b l c r s o l v i n g f o r farm M r . Craig Woods rmclgement 703-961-5184 information r e t r i e v a l : USDA r e p o r t s on crops, l i v e s t o c k , and marketing . information retrieval: serves re connecting . M s . Donna F a l g i a t o r c 215-896-4756 l i n k t o several agric u l t u r a l computer datahses electronic m a i l m p a b f l i t y D r . Steve Harsh 517-355-3776 System Name Sponsoring Organization ms Dixie-S t g l e Selling FACTS Information and S e r v i c e s Provided Location nationvide . information r e t r i e v a l : Mr. Ted Bauer publicly-supported a g r i - 202-344-3846 c u l t u r a l and f o r e s t r y res e a r c h i n U.S. Alabama c a t t l e marketing associatiom 7cattle .video-auctionwith s e l l i n g assoslides ciatione i n Ala barn Egg Clearinghouse, Inc. 160 members nationwide E l e c t r o n i c Marketi n g Association electronic trading for lamb marketi n g cooperalambs t i v e s in V i r g i n i a , Uiscons i n , and Indiana Purdue U. 92 county Ext e n s i o n and 10 a r e a Ext e n s i o n offices in Indiana . eggs electronic trading f o r . U SDA Key Contact and Phone Number . problem-solving for farm management . information r e t r i e v a l : Mr. Dan L i n t o n 205-826-4963 M r . Frank Koelbrich 603-868-2899 Mr. Kenneth Nee1 703-382-1781 D r . Eldon Frederick: 317-494-8396 weather, market p r i c e s , emergency information bulletins e l e c t r o n i c mail . . information retrieval: Federal food, n u t r i t i o n nr. Tom T a t e 202-344-3750 and a g r i c u l t u r e programs Cox Cable COIZWn i c a t i o n s , Inc. I n s t a n t Update P r o f e s s i o n a l Parmers of America, Inc. Iowa Beef Iowa Beef ProcesProcessors s o r s , Inc. S a t e l l i t e Cow munications System Omaha, Nebraska nationwide Kansas information r e t r i e v a l : oews, weather, f i n a n c i a l d a t a , commodities p r i c e s transactional features: banking, shopping . . market information r e t r i e v a l : c o n d i t i o n s , weather, futures prices . omnendations s t a f f a n a l y s e s and recfrom PFA . st iaotnesl l system i t e communicalinking headquarters t o f i e l d buyers i n Kansas M r . David C. Andersen 404-393-0480 nr. Stewart Cross 319-277-1278 M r . Dean Houle 402-241-2630 S y s t a Name Sponsoring Organization I n f o ~ t i o n&nd S e r v i c e s Provided Loution . inforution retrieval: 8pproxiutelg 30 S t a t e Extea- program accomplisheents sion offices of S t a t e Cooperative E x t e ~ i o nS e r v i c e s OSU P a m IlaPagelcnt Progran O k l a h o u S t a t e U. Cornell U . Key Contact and Phone Number Mr. Tom Tare 202-344-3750 . pfarm roblrrsolving for ranagement rutionvide 3 l county at e n s i o n off i c e s , 1.Y. S t a t e agenc i e s , 170 p r i v a t e sect o r u s e r s in N.Y. . . . information r e t r i e v a l : Dr. J i m Tete p e s t c o n t r o l and p e s t i 315-787-2208 ddes s i u l a t i o n model; p o t a t o b l i g h t m d a l f a l f a weevil e l e c t r o n i c 11111: f o r rep o r t i n g f i e l d obeervations and r e t r i e v i n g p e s t Panagement s t r a t e g i e s . dinformation retrieval: t c l t i o ~t o b o o b , jour- L i b r a r y of Congress L i b r a r y of Congress D r . Ted Nelson 405-624-6081 . Ur. J e f f G r i f f i t h 202-287-8768 d articles, congres s i o ~ rle p o r t s in t h e L i b r a r y of Congress; a b s t r a c t o from Congressional Record and information on l e g i s l a t i o n s i n c e 94th Congress rn SOOP(Z Source TelecomputCOW. rutionwick - P h i n o Cotton Coo p e r a t i v e Assoc. Texas and Oklahoma U. of C a l i f o r n i a Cooperative Ex- Sacramento Co., C a l i f . tension Service . . iMd oi mtt iyo Nn wr e tSreirevviacle:, current business trends, updated l i s t i n g of s t o c k s , bonds, c o m o d i t i e s , and futures e l e c t r o n i c mail . . ec loet ct ot rno n i c t r a d i n g f o r . telephone a c c e s s t o rerecorded messages on a v a r i e t y of a g r i c u l t u r a l topics M s . J a n e Brovn 703-734-7500 M r . J a c k Kenwright 806-763-8011 Leila Bettr 916-366-2013 System Name Sponsoring Organization TELPLAN Michigan S t a t e U. . Extension p r o b l e h e o l v i n g f o r farm a g e n t s and farm management businessmen in over 30 S t a t e s Tennessee Tele- Tennessee Dept. phone Auction of A g r i c u l t u r e System Tennessee USDA E l e c tronic M a i l NetworL Land-Grant University system, some S t a t e departe e n t s of agric u l t u r e , and v a r i o u s farm magazines and agricultural news s e r v i c e s USDA Information and S e r v i c e s Provided Location . electronic trading for feeder pigs, feeder c a l v e s , and y e a r l i n g feeder c a t t l e . eofl eUcStDrAo nnevs i c dissemination releases and r e p o r t s over D I l l t C O n and AGNET systems Key Contact and Phone Number Dr. S h e r i l l ~ o t t 517-353-4522 Dr. John Ragan 615-741-1441 Ur. S t a n Prochaska 202-447-7454 S y s t e r Name Spo~oring Organization Loution Agrisource CCA/USDA nationvide I n f o r u t i o n and S e r v i c e s Provided Key Contact and Phone Number . providea infomation retrieval: access t o d i s permed a g r i c u l t u r a l &tabarcs CAT~~X T ~ X UA L nu. CDC A g r i c u l t u r e CDC Illinoh . wholesale electronic trading for neat Texan . Uinnesota . information retrieval: 'how-to' technology f o r and Business Servia Centers electronic trading for cattle . Uinnesota D r . Tom Sporleder 713-845-2116 Mr. B r i a n Roth 6 12-853-6770 farming eduation: W O cow puter-based courses f o r * d l fanners p r o b l e w s o l v i n g f o r farm management and personal coluulting . DEVELOP D r . 'M. E. Sarban 217-333-6465 . ii dd eonr mt i faies tion retrieval: sources of Ms. Beth Eolngren 612-853-7895 t e c h n i c a l a s s i s t a n c e in a r e a s such as a p i c u l t u r e , coruervation, education m d homing Plaryhnd . ueather. i n f o r u t i o n retrieval: u r k e t reports. Mr. Ralph Adkins 301-454-4848 f u t u r e 8 p r i c e s , new bulletiru rcC-en&tioM f t o ~ E~t#?luionS e r v i c e . Farm h r k e t Infodata Servia PBS/USDA F IB S M F i r s t B a n k System of Minneapolin 5 t e s t urh t a mtionwi & Fargo, U.D. . idn fiotr ui t ieo ns rper ti rcieesv, a l : M r . Ben K i t t c r (PBE 202-488-5129 u r k e t ntwa . . . information r e t r i e v a l : weather, f i n a n c i a l and c o a o d i t y reports, local and n a t i o n a l new6 t r a ~ a c t i o n a lf u t u r e s : Lunking, shopping OM computing Ms. Wendy Bollua 612-370-5154 -f System Name Sponsoring Organization Genetic Profiles Applied G e n e t i c s International Information and S e r v i c e s Provided Location Key Contact and Phone Number . ccomputer a n a l y s i s of a t t l e aeasurements t o warning Mr. Norm Rayes 307-527-7173 determine reproduct i v e e f f i c i e n c y and gainability Grassroots Green Thumb IPM in Kentucky BakersfieldCalifornian USDA . weather, information r e t r i e v a l : comodities p r i c e s , market r e p o r t s . banking, transactional features shopping San J o a q u i n Valley i n California 200 farmers ln Shelby and Todd Counties. Kentucky Ohio S t a t e U. Ohio and warby States U. of Kentucky Kentucky M r . Ron Montgomery 805-395-7222 : . home computing . information r e t r i e v a l : weather, f u t u r e s p r i c e s , market c o n d i t i o n s , l o c a l news . es ll ae uc gt rhotne irc hogs trading for . isncfoourtmi nagt i odna t ar e ont r i ecvr oa pl :s M r . Howard Lehnert 202-447-4681 D r . Dennis Renderso: 614-422-2701 D r . Grayson C. Brow 606-258-5638 and presence of p e s t s , i n f o r m a t i o n on each field, pesticides National Purdue U. P e s t i c i d e Inf ormatim Retrieval System p i l o t project in Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, and ninnesota R u r a l Ventures Princeton, Minn. . pinformation retrieval: est control, pesti- D r . John Osmun 317-494-4565 cides - . and computer-based e d u c a t i o n t r a i n i n g programs . crop information r e t r i e v a l : and l i v e s t o c k pro. d u c t i o n , equipment selection problem-solving and personal consultation i n interpreting data Mr. Robert Rumpza 612-853-3886 CRS-40 FIGURE 2. - Location of Operational and Experimtal Systems. -- IICSyw -mAmEQ mRw u - chue Bcsortricw B r w t i c A&riculturr Serviw 27 21 29 1 2 3 45 6 - OQI 7-CWIET 8 - CILIS 9 D M c S t y l w Sell* 10 ICI 11 m.4 12 rms 13 P U n 14 l m u 15 Iuwtmlt UpdAtw 16 I w r h e f Procww*orw Satrllit. r - t i ~ ~ S y~w t a w 17 PW UI O U W s u r e u. Farm ------- -- AGXISCURCE - CATS CATTIEX, 5 0 - C D C 4 ~ d & u i n w Bkdubuq. VA Fast humins. M Wuhington. DC Auburn. AL Durham. QI Chriwttuubur~.VA w. k f . y r t t 8 . W Washinaton. DC -, At Cedar Fwllw, U Dakota City. At V. RECENT LEGISLATIVE OVERSIGHT A heightening awareness of numerous governmental and private sector initiatives designed to improve information support for agricultural America, particularly through the utilization of computer and telecommunications technology, caused the Subcommittee on Department Operations, Research and Foreign Agriculture of the House Committee on Agriculture to undertake a series of oversight initiatives during the 97th Congress. The purpose of these efforts, in the words of Chairman George E. Brown, Jr., included taking "cognizance of probably the most rapidly developing technology in the world and in the United States society...we think it is helpful and constructuve to review this situation as a part of our general responsibility of oversight of agriculture."^/ The first action, designed to provide a useful insight into an often complex area still in evolution was the development by the Congressional Research Service at the direction of the Subcommittee, a booklet entitled "Computer-Based Information Systems for Rural ArnericaWg/ that was to be used during the two days of formal hearings and workshop sessions, conducted on May 19-20, 1982. Utilizing this background material, and the ensuing contributions emanating from hearings testimony, workshop findings, and other ancillary offerings, a subsequent comprehensive report--"Information Technology for Agricultural Americaw--would serve as an instrument for viewing broader trends involving information technology as well as setting forth delineated options for subsequent congressional action. 20/ Renarks of Rep. George E. Brown, Jr. during hearing on Applications of computer- Based Information Systems and Services in A~riculture,U. S. House of Representatives, May 20, 1982. Transcript, p. 184 21/ - Chartrand and Carr. 20 p. Computer-Based Information Systems for Rural America. Participants in the 1982 hearings and workshop became fully aware of the Subcommittee desire to ensure that farmers and ranchers had full access to all resources, including an array of technologies, which would allow them to continue making, in the words of Senator Hubert H. H m h r e v ? "a lasting contribution to our health, to our national prosperity, and to peace in the world." 22/ The needs of the agricultural community for a variety of information--about impending weather conditions, marketplace activities and projections, and factors affecting crop and livestock management--had become increasingly strident, and in many instances appeared to exceed the capacity of existing institutions to provide responsive service. It seemed to some Members of Congress, along with concerned individuals and organizations in many sectors of society, that such requirements, often of gripping urgency, must be confronted and solved. Preparatory to convening the Subcommittee-sponsored sessions, extensive background exploration was undertaken by staff in order to scrutinize existing policies and programs, as reflected in public laws and executive branch promulgations, focusing on this area. In addition, care was taken to examine the genesis of private sector endeavors which had led to the establishment of pilot projects and operational support systems designed to serve the agricultural industry. Response to the Subcommittee declaration of interest and intent to act prompted a widespread expression of willingness to participate actively in the announced hearing and workshop. Among those who ultimately gave testimony, and led or were involved in the discussion group meetings, were university Extension directors, State and local government representatives, information industry executives, farm organization leaders, senior Federal officials, media management, special information service providers (including librarians), and consultants in information systems analysis and design. Remarks of Hubert H. Humphrey before the American Agricultural Editors 2q Association, Washington, D.C., June 22, 1966. P u b l i c and P r i v a t e S e c t o r P e r s p e c t i v e s The v i e w p o i n t s t a k e n and c o n c e r n s v o i c e d by t h e s e r e p r e s e n t a t i v e e l e ments a r e i l l u s t r a t e d t h r o u g h t h i s random s a m p l i n g o f comments: 231 Raymond D. L e t t (USDA S e n i o r Executive)-- American a g r i c u l t u r e always h a s been t h e envy of t h e w o r l d f o r i t s b a s i c r e s e a r c h and p r a c t i c a l a p p l i c a t i o n of new p r o d u c t i o n and m a r k e t i n g t e c h n i q u e s . A m a j o r i n g r e d i e n t i n making t h i s s y s t e m work h a s been t h e c o l l e c t i o n and s h a r i n g of i n f o r m a t i o n among government and academic s o u r c e s , p r i v a t e b u s i n e s s e s and individual citizens. John C. D a t t (AFBF A d m i n i s t r a t o r ) - - A l l p a r t i e s ought t o have e q u a l a c c e s s t o t h e same government i n f o r m a t i o n . And from t h a t p o i n t o n , t h e n , i t i s up t o eakh of u s t o see w h e t h e r we can package i t . . . a n d make i t m e a n i n g f u l and s a l a b l e t o t h e membership of o u r o r g a n i z a t i o n . D r . M.C. Harding, S r . (Academic E x t e n s i o n A d m i n i s t r a t o r ) - It i s e s t i m a t e d t h a t t h e number o f f a r m e r s u s i n g computers i n t h e n e x t f i v e y e a r s w i l l r a n g e between f i v e and f i f t e e n p e r c e n t of commercial f a r m s management s t r a t e g i e s a r e needed t o g i v e guidance t o t h i s t e c h n o l o g i c a l innovation. ... Douglas R. LeGrande ( C o r p o r a t e D i v i s i o n Director)--Computers have been s u c c e s s f u l l y used t o "model" r e a l i t y , g i v i n g t h e u s e r answers t o "what i f " q u e s t i o n s , e n a b l i n g t h e i n v e s t i g a t i o n of a l t e r n a t i v e s and f a c i l i t a t i n g d e c i s i o n s which would b e most prof i t a b l e . A l f r e d T. F r i t t s (newspaper executive)--We are n o t g o i n g t o o f f e r up a c o n t e n t p r o d u c t i n a brand-neb b u s i n e s s u s i n g a whole new p r e s e n t a t i o n and a c o s t i m p o s i t i o n on t h e f a r m e r w i t h o u t b e i n g d a r n e d s u r e t h a t we have a p r o d u c t t h a t w i l l b e a c c e s s e d e v e r y day. D r . L o u i s A. B r a n s f o r d ( t e c h n o l o g y c o n s o r t i u m e x e c u t i v e ) --If we c o u l d j u s t i f y a s a t e l l i t e l i n k , and t h e a v e r a g e f a r m e r c o u l d i n t e r f a c e h i s farm computer t o t h e s t a t e ext e n s i o n o f f i c e , o r any one of t h e a g r i c u l t u r a l , v e t e r i n a r y o r f o r e s t r y c o l l e g e s i n t h e United S t a t e s . . . t h e p o s s i b l i t y of d e c r e a s i n g t h e c o s t of o p e r a t i o n o r i n c r e a s i n g product i v i t y would become e v i d e n t . 23/ - These q u o t a t i o n s were t a k e n from v a r i o u s s o u r c e documents. P e r i o d i c a l l y t h r o u g h o u t t h e two days o f h e a r i n g s , Chairman Brown emphas i z e d t h a t t h e Committee on A g r i c u l t u r e and " t h e Congress as a whole," looked f o r guidance t o t h e p a r t i c i p a n t s . T h i s h e a r i n g and workshop grew o u t of a p e r c e p t i o n t h a t i n f o r m a t i o n and communications t e c h n o l o g i e s a r e e n t e r i n g t h e a g r i c u l t u r a l s e c t o r a t a d i z z y i n g rate. The K e l l o g g F o u n d a t i o n e s t i m a t e s t h a t by 1 9 9 0 , t h r e e - q u a r t e r s o f t h e commercial farms and 90 p e r c e n t of t h e county e x t e n s i o n o f f i c e s i n t h i s c o u n t r y w i l l b e equipped w i t h computers o r i n t e l l i g e n t terminals. The a p p l i c a t i o n of t h e s e t e c h n o l o g i e s h o l d s g r e a t p r o m i s e , b u t t h i s p r o m i s e can o n l y b e r e a l i z e d i f we do a n a d e q u a t e j o b of p l a n n i n g i n t h e e a r l y s t a g e s . 2-J The d i v e r s e p e r s p e c t i v e s o f f e r e d by t h o s e p a r t i c i p a t i n g on a s p e c t r u m of t e c h n i c a l and u s e r - o r i e n t e d i s s u e s , governmental r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s and oppor- t u n i t i e s , and q u a n d a r i e s f a c i n g b o t h t h e p r i v a t e and p u b l i c s e c t o r , more t h a n m e t t h e o b j e c t i v e s of t h e Subcommittee a s e x p r e s s e d by Chairman Brown:25/ 1. 2. 3. P r o v i d e a n o p p o r t u n i t y f o r Members o f C o n g r e s s , t h e i r s t a f f s , and a c t i v i s t s i n t h e p u b l i c and p r i v a t e s e c t o r s t o exchange i d e a s and experiences i n t h i s v i t a l area. I d e n t i f y and d i s c u s s p o l i c y and program q u e s t i o n s , and o b t a i n r e a l i s t i c recommendations f o r l a t e r initiatives. I n c r e a s e p u b l i c a w a r e n e s s of t h e p o t e n t i a l b e n e f i t s and l i m i t a t i o n s of advanced i n f o r m a t i o n r e s o u r c e s and s e r v i c e s . D e l i n e a t i o n of P r i o r i t y I s s u e s The e x p e c t a t i o n s of t h e s p o n s o r i n g Subcommittee were exceeded as a r e s u l t of t h e w e a l t h o f i n f o r m a t i o n t h a t was f o r t h c o m i n g a b o u t t h e i n f o r m a t i o n r e q u i r e m e n t s of t h e u s e r community, b a s i c c o n s i d e r a t i o n s which must b e d e a l t w i t h i n d e s i g n i n g and implementing t e c h n o l o g y - o r i e n t e d i n f o r m a t i o n s e r v i c e s , t r a i n i n g and s y s t e m m a i n t e n a n c e m a t t e r s , and f u t u r e a p p l i c a t i o n s o f s u c h t e c h n o l o g y i n s u p p o r t of a g r i c u l t u r a l management and p r o d u c t i o n . A number of s p e c i f i c i s s u e s emerged, many of a l o n g - s t a n d i n g n a t u r e : 24/ Remarks of Rep. George E. Brown, J r . d u r i n g h e a r i n g on A p p l i c a t i o n s of Computer-Based I n f o r m a t i o n Systems and S e r v i c e s i n A g r i c u l t u r e , U.S. House of R e p r e s e n t a t i v e s , May 1 9 , 1982. T r a n s c r i p t , p. 4 25/ C h a r t r a n d and C a r r , Computer-Based f o r ~ z a America, l p. 1 I n f o r m a t i o n Systems and S e r v i c e s Roles of public and private sector information providers Concern for protecting the confidentiality of system data Pro's and con's of hardware and software standardization Conditions governing access to government information Ownership of "value-added" information products and services Local role in determining content of information offerings Responsibility for post-installation system support, including software and file enhancements Government subsidization of research and pilot projects These and additional issues of note preoccupied the 150 participants throughout the hearing and workshop meetings, and were often evidence of a desire, in the words of Walter Lippmann, to create policies which "reflect a deference to life's ambiguities and to the necessity of practical human - A listing of the workshop discussion group areas of a~commodation.~'26/ purview follows: Group Group Group Group Group 1 2 3 - - 5 - Group 6 - 4 Private sector information services Government information services: management and marketing Government information field operations User requirements System implementation: hardware installation, training, maintenance, software and data file modification Present and projected technology Identifiable Action Alternatives The need for action in the near future was stressed many times, with a number of specific action alternatives identified in the findings and recommendations of the discussion groups, as well as appearing in various witness statements: o Long-range studies which would attempt to delineate responsive information delivery and access systems; o Analysis of existing Extension Service and private sector delivery capabilities, including enhancements featuring utilization of advanced technology; o Creation of "clearinghouses1'which would centrally store key material, along with requisite indexes, with subject contents of priority value to farmers and ranchers; 26/ Bradley, John P. The International Dictionary of Thoughts. ~ e r ~ u i oPress, n 1969. p. 659 Chicago, o Development of a system that would allow monitoring of the varied information products and services available to the agricultural community, and a means of describing these on-going resources to users; o Creation of scenaries, employing dynamic computer models, that could project the impact of information technology on existing agricultural management and marketing tasks; o Periodic reviews, through surveys and polls, of user requirements, including those of the smaller family farms and agri-businesses; o Simply formatted comparisons of equipment and software products which would enable would-be buyers to understand the benefits and limitations of the devices, program packages, and systems being acquired; and o Design of initial orientation and technical training sessions that would allow new system users to grasp the fundamentals of performance in a minimum period of time. These actions in the 97th Congress are evidence that within the United States Congress there has been a growing concern about the shortcomings involving information services for those living in more remote areas. In the past, hearings were held on salient aspects of rural telecommunications' service, the changing role of rural libraries, and alternatives for providing educational opportunities for inhabitants of areas beyond suburbia. In addition, Members have exhibited interest in the potential of present and projected technologies, particularly computer and telecommunications, for offering a wide range of information products and services to rural citizenry. Relevant Studies and Congressional Reports Although relatively few major reports have been issued on this area of burgeoning interest, three are noteworthy: 1978 -- Communications and Rural America, prepared by the Office of Technology Assessment for the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.zL/ 221 U. S. Congress. Office of Technology Assessment. Rural America. Washington, U.S. Govt. Print. Off., 1978 Communications and CRS- 4 7 1980 -- N a t i o n a l Symposium on E l e c t r o n i c Marketing of A g r i c u l t u r a l Commodities, c o n f e r e n c e p r o c e e d i n g s . 281 1982 -- Report on U.S. Department of A g r i c u l t u r e Elect r o n i c I n f o r m a t i o n Exchange and Dissemination. 221 Two o t h e r r e p o r t s of more t h a n t a n g e n t i a l v a l u e d e s e r v e mention because of t h e i r t r e a t m e n t of c e r t a i n developments i n t h e s u b j e c t t e c h n o l o g i e s and t h e i r a p p l i c a t i o n , and t h e i n v a l u a b l e b r o a d e r c o n t e x t which t h e y p r o v i d e : 1978 1982 --- I n t o t h e I n f o r m a t i o n Age: A P e r s p e c t i v e f o r F e d e r a l Action on I n f o r m a t i o n , p r e p a r e d by A r t h u r D. L i t t l e , I n c . 301 Public Sector/Private Sector I n t e r a c t i o n i n Providing I n f o r m a t i o n S e r v i c e s , i s s u e d by t h e N a t i o n a l Commission on L i b r a r i e s and I n f o r m a t i o n S c i e n c e . 31/ Drawing upon t h e a n a l y t i c a l and f a c t u a l m a t e r i a l embodied i n t h e s e miles t o n e s t u d i e s , c o g n i z a n t c o n g r e s s i o n a l o v e r s i g h t groups have been a b l e t o d e l i n e a t e an agenda which would l e a d t o a f u r t h e r rewarding e x p l o r a t i o n of t h i s p r i o r i t y l e g i s l a t i v e concern. A r e f l e c t i o n on t h e r o l e s of b o t h policymakers and program managers, who must b e a r t h e r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f o r shaping t h e i n f o r m a t i o n i n f r a s t r u c t u r e and o f f e r i n g s of t h e f u t u r e , i s s e t f o r t h i n t h e volume, I n f o r m a t i o n Technology S e r v i n g S o c i e t y : 321 Those who s t r i v e t o d e c i d e which i n f o r m a t i o n w i l l o r should have r e s i d u a l value--and i f t e l e v i s i o n o r t h e p r i n t e d word i s t h e b e s t means o f e n s u r i n g that--are doing a g r e a t d e a l of s o u l - s e a r c h i n g where i n v e s t m e n t s i n i n f o r m a t i o n systems and s e r v i c e s a r e concerned. a/ N a t i o n a l Symposium on E l e c t r o n i c Marketing of A g r i c u l t u r a l Commodities, D a l l a s , 1980. Proceedings. College S t a t i o n , Texas, Texas A g r i c u l t u r a l Experiment S t a t i o n , 1980. =/ U.S. Department of A g r i c u l t u r e . O f f i c e of Governmental and P u b l i c A f f a i r s . Report on U.S. Department of A g r i c u l t u r e E l e c t r o n i c I n f o r m a t i o n Exchange and Dissemination. Washington, 1982. a/ A r t h u r D. L i t t l e , I n c . A s s o c i a t i o n , 1978. I n t o t h e I n f o r m a t i o n Age. Chicago, American Library / U.S. N a t i o n a l Commission on L i b r a r i e s and I n f o r m a t i o n S c i e n c e . P u b l i c S e c t o r / P r i v a t e S e c t o r Task Force. P u b l i c S e c t o r / P r i v a t e S e c t o r I n t e r a c t i o n i n F r o v i d i n g I n f o r m a t i o n S e r v i c e s . Washington, U.S. Govt. P r i n t . O f f . , 1982 321 C h a r t r a n d , Robert L. I n f o r m a t i o n T r a n s f e r i n a G i f t e d Age. I n c h a r t r a n d , Robert L., and James W. Morentz, e d s . I n f o r m a t i o n Technology S e r v i n g Technology. New York, Pergamon P r e s s , 1979. p. 3-4 Continuing c o n g r e s s i o n a l concern about t h e s t a t e of a g r i c u l t u r e h a s taken many forms, and r e q u e s t s f o r background i n f o r m a t i o n have emanated from Members w i t h c o n s t i t u e n c i e s a c r o s s t h e country. I n response t o t h e s e r e q u i r e m e n t s , t h e Congressional Research S e r v i c e h a s p r e p a r e d a s e r i e s of " I s s u e B r i e f s " i n r e c e n t y e a r s which d e a l w i t h s a l i e n t a s p e c t s of a g r i c u l t u r a l c o n d i t i o n s and problems: "Agriculture: S o i l Conservation and Farmland P r o d u c t i v i t y , " 3 3-/ "Crisis i n t h e Farm Economy, "341 "Agriculture: "Rural Development : t h e F e d e r a l Role ,"35-/ and S i g n i f i c a n t L e g i s l a t i o n of t h e 97th Congress."36/ - The importance of t h e s e and r e l a t e d m a t t e r s i s comprehended, although n o t always i n a way t h a t a l l o w s t h e f o r m u l a t i o n of a m e l i o r a t i v e a c t i o n , i n many q u a r t e r s . The v i a b i l i t y of American a g r i c u l t u r e may depend i n l a r g e p a r t , i n t h e f u t u r e , on t h e p e r c e p t i o n of Congress, t h e F e d e r a l e x e c u t i v e branch, S t a t e and l o c a l governmental a g e n c i e s , and c o g n i z a n t o r g a n i z a t i o n s i n t h e p r i v a t e s e c t o r , and t h e i r w i l l i n g n e s s and a b i l i t y t o d e f i n e o b j e c t i v e s and i n s t r u m e n t s of e x e c u t i o n which can r e n d e r t h e n e c e s s a r y s u p p o r t t o t h e farming i n d u s t r y . 33.1 U.S. L i b r a r y of Congress. Congressional Research S e r v i c e . A g r i c u l t u r e : S o i l C o n s e r v a t i o n and Farmland P r o d u c t i v i t y . I s s u e B r i e f No. IB8OO31, by R i t a S. D a l l a v a l l e , Feb. 6, 1980 (updated May 21, 1981). Washington, 1981. 3 4 1 U.S. L i b r a r y of Congress. Congressional Research S e r v i c e . Crisis i n t h e ~ Z r mEconomy. Audio B r i e f No. AB 50056, by J a s p e r Womach and o t h e r s , A p r i l 1, 1982. Washington, 1982. 3 5 1 U.S. L i b r a r y of Congress. Congressional Research S e r v i c e . R u r a l Development: The Fe'deral Role. I s s u e B r i e f No. IB77113, by Sandra S. Osbourn, October 1 9 , 1977 (updated S e p t . 23, 1980). Washington, 1980. 3 6 1 U.S. L i b r a r y of Congress. Congressional Research S e r v i c e . A g r i c u l t u r e : s i g n i f i c a n t L e g i s l a t i o n of t h e 97th Congress. I s s u e B r i e f No. IB81161, by E l i z a b e t h W i t h n e l l , Aug. 20, 1982 (updated Sept. 1 5 , 1982). Washington, 1982. CRS-49 VI. SELECTED REFERENCES Government Publications Chartrand, Robert L. and A. Barry Carr. Computer-based information systems and services for rural America. Washington, Congressional Research Service, 1982. 20 p. U.S. Congress. Office of Technology Assessment. Coxammications and rural America. Washington, U.S. Govt. Print. Off., 1978. 49 p. At head of title: 95th Cong., 1st sess. Committee print. Printed for the use of the Senate Conrmittee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. -- Computer-based national information systems: technology and public policy issues. Washington, U.S. Govt. Print. Off., 1981. 166 p. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Office of Governmental and Public Affairs. Report on U.S. Department of Agriculture electronic information exchange and dissemination. Washington, U.S. Dept. of Ag., 1982, 15 p. U.S. Office of Tel.ecommunications Policy. Interagency committee report on rural communications. [Washington]1977. 1 v. (various pagings) Books and Reports Case, Donald and others. Stanford evaluation of the Green Thumb Box experimental videotext project for agricultural extension information delivery in Shelby and Todd counties, Kentucky; final report. Stanford, Calif., Institute for Conrmunications Research, Stanford University, 1381. 207 p. "USDA contract no. 53-3K06-1-63" Electronic Marketing of Agricultural Commodities, Winnipeg, Nov. 2-4 1981. Proceedings. Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, Agriculture Canada, Marketing and Economics Branch, 1981. 200 p. National Symposium on Electronic Marketing of Agricultural Commodities, Dallas, 1980. Proceedings. College Station, Texas, Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, 1980. 154 p. "MP-1463" Strain, J. Robert and Sherry Fieser. Updated inventory of agricultural computer programs available for Extension use. Gainesville, Florida, Food and Resource Economics Department, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of FloridaIin cooperation with Federal Extension Service, U.S.D.A. I , 1982. 186 p. Warner, Paul D. An evaluation of a computer-based videotext information delivery system for farmers: the Green Thumb project; executive summary. Lexington, University of Kentucky, 1982. 32 p. Periodical Articles CRS-50 Brown, G.C. Microprocessor-based information management system for an integrated pest management program. Bulletin of the Entomological Society of America, v. 28, June 1982: 135-137. Diesslin, H.G. The computer--extension's delivery system of the future. American journal of agricultural economics, v. 63, Dec. 1981: 863-867. Electronic Technology. Extension review, summer 1982 (entire issue). Harsh, Stephen B. The developing technology of computerized information systems. American journaP of agricultural economics, v. 60, Dec. 1978: 908-914. Infanger, Craig L., Lynn W. Robbins, and David L. Debertin. Interfacing research and extension in information delivery systems. American journal of agricultural economics. v. 60, Dec. 1978: 915-922. Linton, Daniel. Marketing cattle board auction style. Extension review, spring 1982: 20-21. Reynolds, Bruce J. TELCOT: a case study of electronic marketing. Agricultural history, v. 56, Jan. 1982: 83-98. Schotsch, Linda. CATTLEX. Farm journal beef extra, Feb. 1981: 1-2,5. Schotsch, Linda. Your computer options; a Farm Journal report. Farm journal, v. 106, Feb. 1982: 9-13. General Reports on Information Policy and Technology Congressional Research Service. Information and telecommunications: an overview of issues, technologies, and applications. July 1981. 138 p. Issued as a Committee Print. U.S. Congress. House. Conunittee on Science and Technology, Subconunittee on Science, Research and Technology. 97th Congress, 1st session. Domestic Council Committee on the Right of Privacy. National information policy; report to the President of the United States. Washington, National Commission on Libraries and Information Science, 1976. 233 p. Little, Arthur D. Inc. Into the information age. A report prepared for the National Science Foundation. Chicago, American Library Association, 1978. 134 p. National Commission on Libraries and Information Science. Public sector/private sector interaction in providing information services. Washington, National Commission on Libraries and Information Science, 1982. 88 p. U.S. Congress. Office of Technology Assessment. Computer-based national information systems; technology and public policy issues. Washington, U.S. Govt. Print. Off., 1981. 166 p. U.S. Department of Commerce. National Telecommunications and Information Administration. Issues in public information policy. Washington, U. S. Govt. Print. Off. , 1981. 101 p.