by Chris Clayton DTN Ag Policy Editor
OMAHA (DTN) — Farmers should feel more secure about information they share with several large agricultural companies after a farm data agreement announced by some major farm organizations and companies.
The American Farm Bureau Federation issued a news release Thursday stating that companies and farm groups had come to terms on some privacy and security principles for acquiring and securing farm data. The goal of the agreement is to encourage farmers to take advantage of the growing number of tools out there for precision agriculture to help boost productivity and profitability while companies commit to protecting producer information.
The agreement comes after nearly a year of discussions after more farmers began raising questions about how companies were using information generated at the farm level in various aggregation or precision-farming services.
Groups and businesses signing on to the agreement include: American Farm Bureau Federation, American Soybean Association, Beck's Hybrids, Dow AgroSciences LLC, DuPont Pioneer, John Deere, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Corn Growers Association, National Farmers Union, Raven Industries, The Climate Corporation — a division of Monsanto, and USA Rice Federation.
In striking their accord, the groups also crafted a new acronym for American agriculture — ATP — Agriculture Technology Provider.
“The principles released today provide a measure of needed certainty to farmers regarding the protection of their data,” said American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman. “Farmers using these technology-driven tools will help feed a growing world while also providing quantifiable environmental benefits. These principles are meant to be inclusive and we hope other farm organizations and ATPs join this collaborative effort in protecting farm-level data as well as educating farmers about this revolutionary technology.”
While the initial talks and agreement were limited to a small number of major players in the industry, more groups and companies are likely to adhere to the principles and goals of the agreement. Mary Kay Thatcher, a lobbyist for Farm Bureau, took the lead in working with various groups on the agreement. She said other companies are already jumping in to participate or aligning their privacy and security policies.
“I think we are already seeing several companies who have said they want to sign on,” Thatcher said. “There are going to be a lot of folks who want to be part of it.”
According to a document laid out by the groups, both farm organizations and companies will continue a dialogue on the topics involved and will work to educate farmers and develop programs so farmers know their rights and responsibilities when signing up for data projects. “ATPs should strive to draft contracts using, simple, easy-to-understand language.”
As far as ownership of data, the groups and businesses involved stated that “farmers own information generated on their farming operations.” Farmers must agree on what information is shared with a company for a precision agricultural system and must also consider the economic interests of landowners, tenants and other input providers. Farmers must also realize the responsibilities they have in sharing data they own with the ATPs.
Data should only be collected and used by an ATP through “the affirmative and explicit consent of the farmer” through contract agreements. Companies must also notify farmers how their data is being collected, used and disclosed. “This notice must be provided in an easily located and readily accessible format.”
CLICK HERE for more information on transparency, portability, terms, disclosure, data retention and contract termination.
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Posted by Jami Howell