Farmers today have incredibly sophisticated technology at their disposal to increase their productivity, such as drones, automatic equipment guidance and steering, in-field sensing systems, and yield monitoring systems. However, the same data privacy issues that face other industries also plague the ag-tech companies behind these technologies and the producers that rely on said technologies. The data collected by producers is extremely valuable not only to the producer and its operations, but to competitors, tech companies, and commodity traders as well.
For this reason, the American Farm Bureau Federation created the Privacy and Security Principles for Farm Data, which is a list of guidelines that ag-tech providers should follow when collecting and using data. The list addresses data ownership, collection, access, control, notice, transparency, retention, liability, and security, among other concerns.
The American Farm Bureau Federation, alongside other organizations and companies, also formed the non-profit Ag Data Transparency Evaluator, Inc. (“Ag Data”). Ag Data audits ag-tech companies’ contracts, and ag-tech companies can earn the Ag Data “Transparent Seal of Approval” which signals that the company’s contracts have been reviewed and comply with the Privacy and Security Principles for Farm Data. Ag Data features the compliant companies on their website, along with each company’s responses to the 11 questions also required for approval.
Producers should be aware of the terms of their ag-tech contracts, and should be mindful of the inadvertent dissemination or theft of their precious data. Ag-tech companies should be equally as careful, and stay persistent with their efforts to protect producers’ information.