As producers put increasingly numbers of precision ag tools to work on their farm, they continue to wrestle with more than the considerable challenge of integrating those systems.
According to a new survey from the American Farm Bureau Federation, farmers remain worried about the privacy of that farm data and unsure about who owns that information.
Specifically, more than three-fourths (77%) of farmers surveyed said they were “extremely concerned or concerned” about who could access their farm data. More than half (55%) of respondents said they were uncertain whether they owned their own data or not, based on their contracts.
(According to the Farm Bureau’s Privacy and Security Principles for Farm Data, growers retain ownership of any data generated from their farming operation. Nearly 40 companies, including major ag technology providers, have signed on the principles.)
“This indicates a higher level of clarity and transparency is needed to secure grower confidence,” said Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, adding: “You should not have to hire an attorney before you are comfortable signing a contract with an ag technology provider.”
The American Farm Bureau, through its Ag Data Transparency Evaluator, is attempting to address that situation.
But the issues of farm data privacy, sharing, and usage are still murky ones for many growers and their ag technology partners.
According to the results of the survey,
- 34% of farmers surveyed said they didn’t have documentation that “expressly states how their data will be used.”
- 39% were aware of privacy policies and licensing agreements for farm data, but said they have not signed such documents.
- 79% weren’t sure of all the ways a company intends to use their farm data.
- 54% of farmers who do know how their ag tech providers will use their farm data said they were uncertain whether they need to grant permission for their info to be shared with a third party.
Will such worries cause farmers to turn away from precision ag?
Despite the frustrations and concerns, many farmers continue to see value in farm data products. Producers surveyed by the Farm Bureau also said that precision ag helps them make better business decisions for their farm operation, particularly when profit margins are thin. For example, more than half (53%) of farmers surveyed said farm data helped lower their seed costs, and nearly three-fourths (72%) said they used farm data to increase their crop yields.