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2016 Commodity Classic: Data Privacy & Security Principles Encourage Use of Tools

Many farmers guard their data like a chef guarding a prized recipe. They’ve worked diligently to tweak the ingredients of their secret sauce that leads to a successful season. Compromising control of that information is unsettling. 

“You’ll never hear Microsoft say, ‘You’re using our computer, so we get all the data. If you plug a USB drive in, that’s our data, too.’ Yet, that’s exactly the way ag works,” says Doug Hackney.

“We feel that farmers should have full ownership and control of all data generated on their farm,” says Tyler McClendon. “Fact-based farming means making decisions based on data. If you don’t have full ownership and control of your data, fact-based farming isn’t possible.”

To address concerns, a coalition of major farm organizations and agriculture technology providers (ATPs) has announced an agreement on data privacy and security principles that will encourage the use and development of a full range of innovative, technology-driven tools and services.

Members of the coalition include American Farm Bureau Federation, American Soybean Association, Beck’s Hybrids, Dow AgroSciences LLC, DuPont Pioneer, John Deere, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Corn Growers Association, National Farmers Union, Raven Industries, The Climate Corporation (a division of Monsanto), and the USA Rice Federation.

“The principles provide a measure of needed certainty to farmers regarding the protection of their data,” says American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman. “Farmers using these technology-driven tools will help feed a growing world while also providing quantifiable environmental benefits. These principles are meant to be inclusive, and we hope other farm organizations and ATPs join this collaborative effort in protecting farm-level data as well as educating farmers about this revolutionary technology.”

Central to the effort surrounding the principles will be grower education initiatives that will include an easy-to-use transparency evaluation tool for farmers. The tool would allow farmers to compare and contrast specific issues within ATP contracts and to see how the contracts align with these agreed-upon principles, and how ATPs manage and use farmers’ data.

“The privacy and security principles that underpin these emerging technologies, whether related to how data is gathered, protected, and shared, must be transparent and secure. On this matter, we all agree,” says Stallman. 

The principles cover a wide range of issues that must be addressed before most farmers will feel comfortable sharing their private business information with data providers. 

For a detailed breakdown on the individual principles of the Privacy and Security Principles for Farm Data, visit

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