New tool helps farmers understand big data contracts

Tool shows how data will be used when farmers adopt precision ag technologies.

A coalition of major farm organizations, commodity groups and agricultural technology providers (ATPs) debuted a tool designed to help farmers understand how their data will be used when they adopt precision agriculture technologies.

New technologies and products are constantly entering the marketplace and generating millions of bits of data about farmers’ fields, crops and equipment. A recent survey found that an overwhelming number of farmers do not know what happens to their data when they use these new technologies.

The Ag Data Transparency Evaluator was created to help producers understand where their data are going and who has access and control over the data. The evaluator requires participating ATPs to answer 10 key questions about how their technology product uses and controls farmer data. A third-party administrator then reviews the answers and determines whether the products meet the standards of transparency set by the Privacy & Security Principles for Farm Data (Data Principles).

Products that meet standards will receive the “Ag Data Transparent” seal to be displayed on promotional materials and product pages. Additionally, farmers can go to the Transparency Evaluator website to see and compare all of the products and services that have undergone the evaluation.

Some of the 10 questions addressed by the evaluator include: What categories of data do the product or service collect from the farmer? Will the ATP obtain the farmer’s consent before providing other companies with access to the data? Will the ATP notify the farmer if a breach of data security occurs that causes disclosure of the farmer’s data to an outside party?

The creation of the Ag Data Transparency Evaluator stems back to November 2014, when a coalition of agricultural groups and ATPs announced a Data Principles document — an agreement identifying key areas of concern for producers.

The coalition involved in the development of the Ag Data Transparency Evaluator includes both farmer-led industry organizations and ATPs, including AGCO, Ag Connections, Agrible, American Farm Bureau Federation, American Soybean Assn., Beck's Hybrids, Conservis, CNH Industrial, Crop IMS, Dow AgroSciences, DuPont Pioneer, Farm Dog, Farmobile, Granular, Grower Information Services Cooperative, GROWMARK, Independent Data Management, John Deere, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Corn Growers Assn., National Farmers Union, National Sorghum Producers and The Climate Corp.

The Ag Data Transparency Evaluator is nonprofit corporation governed by a board of directors from the participating organizations. The corporate bylaws require that all actions be approved by the farmer-led organizations, making the evaluator truly a farmer-driven initiative that is not controlled by the ATPs whose products are reviewed.

To learn more about the Ag Data Transparency Evaluator or to see the full list of 10 questions, visit www.fb.org/agdatatransparent.

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