Making Sense of all that Farm Data

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Panel talks data

Data discussion panelThe morning session of the annual Indiana Livestock Forage and Grain Forum Thursday focused on data usage and privacy concerns on Hoosier farms. A 4 person panel discussed how data is used and how agriculture needs to protect the data. Indiana farmer Kip Tom depends on the advantages his data provides but urges farmers to be educated.

“Understand what big data is. Understand what open data is, and make sure that you understand the importance of knowing how that is not only owned, but controlled. Is it being put together and autonomous, or what’s going on with your individualized data. Yes we do have concerns but the solution is education so you know what’s going on. That’s critical. Some of us in this room will read our operators manual on our combine or tractor or that seed we’re producing, but we need to understand what’s going on with our data and how to manage it.”

Matt Erickson is a White County, Indiana native now serving as an economist for American Farm Bureau. He said AFBF is approaching data from the policy perspective and facilitating data conversations among like-minded ag organizations.

“It’s important that farm organizations have that conversation with the industry to make sure that like minded terms and conditions, data privacy statements are consistent with one another and transparent within what you’re signing up for. We’ve got policy based on ownership. Farmers own the data. It’s your data. You should have the choice of where your data goes. With security and privacy issues privacy is probably the biggest heartburn that gives our folks sleepless nights, because you can implement the best management practices on your farm, but once that data goes to the company, it’s with the company.”

Tom added that there is good reason to have a level of trust when sharing data.

“The reality is Pioneer, John Deere, Monsanto, Winfield, Growmark, whoever it may be, they want you to come back next year so they can’t risk their business’s reputation and violate that trust with your data. I think that’s important to keep in your mind at all times.”

Joining Tom and Erickson on the panel were Matt Bechdol of GeoSilos and Sarina Sharp of Ag Business Solutions. Hear more of their comments here in a portion of the discussion moderated by Sara Wyant of Agri-Pulse:Big Data 2014 Panel

(pictured left to right are Sharp, Bechdol, Erickson and Tom)

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