The past year some of America’s leaders in agricultural technology products worked together with American Farm Bureau Federation and industry trade organizations to come up with a set of core principles for data privacy. The principles identified should help these agriculture technology providers (ATPs) develop new privacy policies and ensure existing policies protect farmers’ privacy. Here is an abbreviated version of the of the core principles.
Ownership: Farmers own information generated on their farming operations. However, it is the responsibility of the farmer to agree upon data use and sharing with the other stakeholders with an economic interest such as the tenant, landowner, cooperative, owner of the precision agriculture system hardware, and/or ATP etc. The farmer contracting with the ATP is responsible for ensuring that only the data they own or have permission to use is included in the account with the ATP.
Notice: Farmers must be notified that their data is being collected and about how the farm data will be disclosed and used. This notice must be provided in an easily located and readily accessible format.
Transparency and Consistency: ATPs shall notify farmers about the purposes for which they collect and use farm data. They should provide information about how farmers can contact the ATP with any inquiries or complaints, the types of third parties to which they disclose the data, and the choices the ATP offers for limiting its use and disclosure.
Portability: Farmers should be able to retrieve their data for storage or use in other systems, with the exception of the data that has been made anonymous or aggregated and is no longer specifically identifiable. Non-anonymized or non-aggregated data should be easy for farmers to receive their data back at their discretion.
Disclosure, Use and Sale Limitation: An ATP will not sell or disclose non-aggregated farm data to a third party without first securing a legally binding commitment to be bound by the same terms and conditions as the ATP has with the farmer.
Data Retention and Availability: Each ATP should provide for the removal, secure destruction and return of original farm data from the farmer’s account upon the request of the farmer or after a pre-agreed period of time. The ATP should include a requirement that farmers have access to the data that an ATP holds during that data retention period. ATPs should document personally identifiable data retention and availability policies and disposal procedures, and specify requirements of data under policies and procedures.
Unlawful or Anti-Competitive Activities: ATPs should not use the data for unlawful or anti-competitive activities, such as a prohibition on the use of farm data by the ATP to speculate in commodity markets.
To read the entire core principles document, click here: Privacy and Security Principles for Farm Data. To read American Farm Bureau’s press release, click here: Farmers, Agriculture Technology Providers Reach Agreement on Big Data Privacy and Security Principles Expected to Accelerate Technology Adoption.
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