By Scott A. Shearer
As farmers wrap up harvest and begin thinking about the 2018 cropping season, data organization and archiving may be a topic of interest. There are many data repositories provided by the private sector and we know that farmers are beginning to reap the benefits of historical agricultural data. As the industry moves towards adoption of AgTech, many are beginning to see evidence of how historical data may inform the creation of prescriptions to guide and optimize crop production inputs. We know that many farmers have bought into AgTech, and have few concerns with sharing their data, while others remain somewhat reluctant to upload their data to cloud service providers.
Unfortunately, many farmers find themselves sitting on the sidelines when it comes to uploading their data to some service providers. In response to numerous concerns expressed by farmers, the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) adopted the following data privacy and security policy. Proprietary data collected from farming and agricultural operations is valuable, should remain the property of the farmer, and warrants protection. AFBF supports:
- requiring companies that are collecting, storing, and analyzing proprietary data to provide full disclosure of their intended use of the data;
- compensation to farmers whose proprietary data is shared with third parties that offer products, services or analyses benefitting from that data;
- utilizing all safeguards to ensure proprietary data is stored at an entity that is not subject to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request; and
- the right of a producer who no longer wishes to participate in aggregated data sharing with a private company, to remove their past aggregated data from the company’s database and revoke that company’s ability to sell or use that data in the future.
A little over two years ago, several public and private sector partners came together to begin addressing data privacy and security concerns. Today, the Agricultural Data Coalition (ADC), a non-profit organization, provides a cloud-based data repository designed and built to address farmers’ data concerns. During 2018, the ADC will form a farmer-owned, for-profit cooperative to license to the ADC’s data repository. Keeping the AFBF principles in mind, the ADC is unique because:
- Coalition includes universities, industry, and agricultural service providers to support farmers and advance collaboration in the new era of data driven agriculture;
- Farmers save time and money by having all their data in a single, secure and transparent repository;
- A farmer using ADC can permission and share data with one or more advisors or ag tech providers in support of prescriptive agriculture; and
- Permissions can be managed for files, folders, time interval or project; so that grower maintains full control of their data assets.
Key benefits of the ADC non-profit structure include:
- Platform and related infrastructure for the collection of agricultural-related data and its use for non-commercial research and development with data owner permission;
- Conduct, support and facilitate collaborative data research and educational activities that benefit and enhance the use of agricultural data and its range of applications;
- Educate the agricultural industry and the public about the value of agricultural data and its impact or potential; and
- Educate the agricultural industry about the operability of agronomic, machine and other agricultural-related data.