May 17, 2016Farm Bureau survey: farmers want control of their data
Farmers and ranchers want to control the information their equipment collects every time it passes through a field, a survey released by the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) shows. Farmers also believe that creating a cooperative-style central repository for their data is the best way to enhance its security and maximize its value, according to the survey.
AFBF is a founding member of the Ag Data Coalition (ADC), an organization created by several agricultural groups and companies to help farmers better store and manage their information in a central location. The ADC will establish a co-op-style repository for agricultural data, with farmers having a governing role over the group.
AFBF President Zippy Duvall said that is consistent with survey findings that 71 percent of respondents said they are interested in having access to the kind of data bank that ADC is developing, while 82 percent say it is important that farmers have a voice in the ag data co-op.
Survey respondents also ranked vendor transparency high among their priorities. Farm Bureau and other groups recently introduced a tool, the Ag Data Transparency Evaluator, to explain in plain English the convoluted details often found in data contracts with agricultural hardware and software providers.
The survey, meanwhile, revealed a high level of misunderstanding among respondents regarding data details in their contracts. When asked whether they knew if their contracts indicated they owned or controlled their own data, 55 percent of those surveyed said they did not know. Twelve percent said the contracts did not indicate control or ownership, and only 33 percent said their contracts specifically indicated that growers owned or controlled the data they generate.
When asked whether contract details about sharing data with a third party, business partner or affiliate required approval of the grower, only 32 percent said they did. Fifty-four percent were unsure and 14 percent said prior approval from a grower was not required for data sharing.
According to AFBF, the survey also revealed other issues that must be addressed to help promote farmer acceptance, noting the following:
- Seventy-seven percent are concerned about which entities can access their farm data and whether it could be used for regulatory purposes;
- Sixty-seven percent said they will consider how outside parties use and treat their data when deciding which technology or service provider to use;
- Sixty-six percent believe farmers should share in the potential financial benefits from the use of their data beyond the direct value they may realize on their farm;
- Sixty-one percent are worried that companies could use their data to influence market decisions; and
- Fifty-nine percent were confused whether current agreements or contracts allowed technology or service providers to use their data to market other services, equipment or inputs back to them.
This year’s poll follows a 2014 survey that led to the development and publication of a set of Thirteen Principles on Data Privacy and Security that same year. Thirty-eight different agricultural companies and farm groups have signed on to the principles, to date.
The new ag data survey of about 400 farmers and ranchers was conducted from January through April 2016. Additional highlights can be found at: www.fb.org/tmp/uploads/BigDataSurveyHighlights.pdf
Source: American Farm Bureau Federation