Thursday, November 13, 2014

Agriculture firms, farm groups reach deal on how major companies use crop data

Agriculture firms and farm groups reached a deal that some feel could eliminate growing concern over "the expanded use of data on specific fields in planting technology and other services sold to growers," Jacob Bunge reports for The Wall Street Journal. The deal, expected to be announced today by the American Farm Bureau Federation, would put to rest fears of how major companies like Monsanto are using crop data.

"The deal seeks to unite the industry on practices for collecting, storing and using information ranging from planting dates to pesticide applications and crop yields," Bunge writes. "Tractors and combines collect this information on thumb drives or beam it to remote computer servers. Agribusinesses then analyze the data to provide services that help farmers choose what seeds to plant and how to plan harvests." American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman told Bunge, “We want to allow farmers the confidence they need to adopt these game-changing technologies."

The Farm Bureau "has warned that seed companies may have an interest in persuading farmers to buy more seeds or that services could direct farmers to purchase certain sprays and machinery," Bunge writes. "While a data-driven approach to farming has boosted some farmers’ production and helped them save money on sprays and fertilizer, others have expressed reservations about giving big agricultural companies a deep look into their businesses."

Called the “Privacy and Security Principles for Farm Data,” the agreement echoes one signed earlier this week by the Data Privacy and Security Committee of AgGateway, "a consortium of more than 200 ag-related businesses and organizations" who released a similar document designed to help the agriculture industry incorporate the best practices for data privacy into their operations, reports Agri-Pulse, a Washington newsletter. (Read more)

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