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Farm Bureau Data Privacy Poll Produces Some Interesting Results

The American Farm Bureau Federation (Farm Bureau) recently polled over 2500 farmers about their concerns with data privacy and technology. Over 1000 of those surveyed indicated that they already use “precision technologies” on their farm, including data analysis tools operated by off-farm companies. These farmers expressed concerns over liability issues, off-farm usage by technology providers, and privacy. This was not surprising, but still there were some interesting results.

As an attorney, I was surprised to read just how many farmers said they took time to read the contracts offered by technology providers. Farm Bureau stated that more than 48% read the “Terms and Conditions” document; more than 42% read their “Privacy Policy”; and more than 39% read other provisions on technology provider websites. These results suggest that early adopters of new technologies are very interested in the fine print. I assume that this number will fall as more people sign up for farm data analysis tools, and fewer people take time to read the details.

Less surprising was that 81% of farmers believe farmers are the owners of field data generated on their farms. However, when you read that 82% of farmers are also unaware of how technology providers intend to use their farm data, you can understand why farmers have worries about data privacy. They believe the data is theirs, but they do not know how it will be used.

Farmers are also skeptical that farm data can really be kept private. 77% believe their data could end up in the hands of regulatory officials and 75% believe a company or third party could use their data for market-sensitive commercial activities (like commodity speculation).

All of this points to one thing—the importance of ag technology providers to draft clear, concise, easy to read contracts.

To read Farm Bureau's summary of their polling, click here: AFBF Data Privacy Survey Results

    By Todd J. Janzen, Partner, Plews Shadley Racher & Braun LLP

Read more at Janzen Ag Law Blog by Todd Janzen, Partner, Plews Shadley Racher & Braun LLP.

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