Farmers are concerned about who is accessing data collected on their farms, according to a new survey organized by the American Farm Bureau Federation.
Though more farmers are reaping the benefits of "big data," more than 77% of farmers surveyed said they feared regulators and other government officials might gain access to their private information without their knowledge or permission.
Nearly 76%of respondents said they were concerned others could use their information for commodity market speculation without their consent.
The survey was conducted from late July to early September. Reponses were received from 3,380 farmers.
"Farmers should know who owns their data and how they plan to use it," said AFBF President Bob Stallman. "It's up to companies that collect the data to make all that clear."
Eighty-one percent of farmers surveyed said they believe they retain ownership of their farm data, according to Farm Bureau. Yet, more than 82% are unclear on how companies intend to use the farmers' data.
Among top concerns of the respondents:
• Liability: In the case of a data breach, who is liable for my farm data? Can misuse of my data be used against me if not obtained legally?
• Usage: How is my data being used by each company and who is it being shared with?
• Privacy: Is my data anonymous so it cannot be traced back to my site specific operation?
Despite concerns, farmers report positive results from using precision technologies that collect weather data, track seed varieties, analyze nutrient applications and map crop yields.
Farmers surveyed indicated the use of precision technology has reduced the cost of seed, fertilizer and pesticides by an average of 15% and increased crop yields by an average of 13%. More than half of the survey respondents who are actively farming indicated that they plan to invest in new or additional precision and data technology in the next year or two.
View the full summary of Farm Bureau farmer data use survey responses.