Table of Contents:
- Big Data is agriculture’s big blank on the map
- Who owns ag data?
- Big Data is giant blank on the map and U.S. agriculture is charging right toward it. Nobody, including farmers, gets to opt out of the unintended consequences of digital technology.
The data is market gold that came from a farmer’s field, but was mined by agribusiness riding shotgun in the tractor cab. Who owns it? Blake Hurst wades in on property rights in The American: “… the individual farmer’s data has considerably more value than the average consumer’s data. Many farms are fairly large businesses, spending hundreds of thousands on fertilizer and seed and producing millions of dollars of crops. It’s not difficult to imagine a smart phone ad arriving within seconds of a farmer encountering weed or insect damage while he’s harvesting his crop. Farmers’ information is valuable to the companies sponsoring ads, so farmers should be compensated when their data is sold. Farmers need to protect their data and make sure they bargain wisely as they share data with suppliers and companies who desire access to their information.”
For more from Hurst, see Big Farms Are About to Get Bigger
There’s no Faustian bargain between agriculture and Big Data, but it should be noted that proprietary data rules are yet to be written and the law of unintended consequences may play out down the road in high court in Big Data’s version of Bowman v. Monsanto or other touchstone cases. Bob Stallman, president of American Farm Bureau Federation, from a Jan. 31 AFBF release: "Proprietary data collected from individual farms is valuable and should remain the property of the farmer. As innovation and technology using this data expands to provide farmers new management tools, protecting the privacy of this data is paramount."
A buyer-beware change is around the bend for American farmers — but beware of what? Hurst wraps the issue very well: “Farmer’s personal relationship to place, one of the salient facts that distinguish agriculture, is about to change.”