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Janzen on Big Data in Farm Leases: When the Landlord Wants Control

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In my previous post, I discussed some ideas for drafting a lease to make sure that the tenant owns the farm data created during the lease. Another scenario arises when the landlord wants control of the farm data generated by the tenant. This might be the case where the landlord makes land management decisions, such as what to plant, how much fertilizer to apply, when to spray pesticides, etc. In this type of situation, different provisions need to be included in the lease than suggested in my previous post.
When a landlord wants to own the farm data during and after a lease, I recommend at least three provisions be added to the lease: (a) a definition of “Farm Data”; (b) a provision establishing who owns “Farm Data”; and (c) a provision establishing what happens to “Farm Data” at the end of the lease.  Here is how this might look:

  1. Landlord and tenant recognize that tenant’s farming of the leased farmland during the term of the lease will generate agronomic data, including information related to soil, water, seed variety, crop health, crop maturity, disease, nutrients, fertilizer, herbicides, pesticides, yield etc., in various digital forms, including files, imagery, records, video, photos, etc. (“Farm Data”).
  2. Tenant assigns all rights to Farm Data to landlord and relinquishes tenant’s rights in the same. Tenant shall cause all Farm Data to be transferred to landlord on or before December 31st each year by a mutually acceptable method of data transfer. Landlord is the exclusive owner of all Farm Data generated on the leased farmland during the lease term.  Landlord shall have all rights associated with Farm Data ownership, including deletion, transfer, sale, and disclosure rights.
  3. At the conclusion of the lease, landlord shall retain ownership of all Farm Data. Tenant shall delete any copies of Farm Data under tenant’s possession, custody, or control.

These provisions are for discussion purposes only. You should contact your attorney to make sure your lease has the exact provisions you need.

Todd Janzen grew up on a Kansas farm and now practices law with Plews Shadley Racher & Braun LLP, which has offices in Indianapolis and South Bend.  He also serves as General Counsel to the Indiana Dairy Producers and writes regularly about agricultural law topics on his blog: JanzenAgLaw.com.  This article is provided for informational purposes only. Readers should consult legal counsel for advice applicable to specific circumstances. Todd is currently serving as chair of the American Bar Association’s (ABA’s) Agricultural Management Committee, which is part of the ABA’s Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources.

Submitted by: Todd J. Janzen, Plews Shadley Racher & Braun LLP