High-tech combines and satellite connections pose a new problem for farming: Who gets all the data? In the past, it was assumed all the information farmers collected was theirs, but with internet sending data straight to massive hubs, large corporations have valuable farming habits and yields sent to them in real-time.
Iowa Farm Bureau President Craig Hill says, “If somebody has unique capacity to understand what our yields are before anyone else does in the farming community, that’s a huge advantage. And it’s worth billions of dollars.”
Before instant access to information, everyone had to wait for USDA reports to get a gauge of the market place. Many companies say they will never share, sell, or use data in a market-distorting way, but the American Farm Bureau Federation says they would rather verify than trust.
It all comes back to how much data the farmer owns. Hill says there needs to be more steps made toward assuring ownership.
“And so it needs to be explicit in a contract, when you sign a contract, when you share your data, share your information you should know how’s it’s going to be used.” He says, “And so I guess that’s what the American Farm Bureau would like do is to make sure we have some protection.”