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Montana Farmers Want Ag Data Protection

By Mark Moran

Montana farmers have testified before a panel of state lawmakers asking them to protect agricultural data that is collected by precision farming technology - and stored electronically, "in the cloud."

They're looking for changes in how that information is accessed.

At a recent state Economic Affairs Committee meeting, Montana Farmer's Union President Walter Schweitzer said with the increased use of precision ag tools and a huge uptick in data collected and stored remotely, farmers' information needs greater protections.

"We read every day that there's data being hacked," said Schweitzer. "The military has gotten hacked. Banks have been hacked. Hospitals are being hacked."

Schweitzer argued that hackers could use the information to affect prices or direct-market products to farmers based on the information they collect about crops and ag operations.

He said based on farmers' input, the Economic Affairs Committee will work with lawmakers to consider changes during next year's legislative session.

Rather than tighten access, Schweitzer said he thinks ag data should be made more transparent and publicly available.

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