Privacy is becoming an issue for Indiana farmers, and farm groups are struggling with policies and practices that are appropriate. Privacy of data was discussed at the AFBF policy meeting in San Antonio on Tuesday. Indiana Farm Bureau President Don Villwock says a farm property privacy bill is also moving through the Indiana General Assembly, “Trespass is one of the biggest legislative priorities for Indiana Farm Bureau this session.” Villwock told HAT that, in recent years, trespassing has become a more serious issue for Indiana famers, from pickup trucks driving across fields, to hunting without permission, to unauthorized photos and videotaping in livestock barns. He added state statutes need to be strengthened when it comes to trespassing on farmland.
Villwock says consumers today want to know how their food is produced and that agriculture needs to be transparent, but not at the expense of farmers’ personal privacy, “We have a great story to tell about how we produce food or treat our animals. We like to have guests on our farms, but feel it is only common courtesy to have permission to be on our land.”
Privacy is also an issue when it comes to the data about farming operations. A new section in the AFBF policy book is being developed to deal with data collected by farm equipment or by drones flying over farm fields. The ownership of that data and who can profit from it is being discussed and debated by farmers. AFBF has also taken legal action against the EPA for the release of confidential farmer information to activist groups in 2013. It is a delicate balance with which farmers and their families will need to deal.