The American Farm Bureau Federation recently launched an online survey to collect feedback from farmers about farm data. The survey, which is open to all farmers and ranchers, will help gauge progress on big data issues and give some important insight into new issues.

When Farm Bureau conducted a similar survey on big data in September 2014, nearly 3,400 farmers responded. The top concerns at that time were:

· 82 percent of farmers were unaware of all the ways a company intended to use their farm data and with whom it was being shared;

· 77 percent of farmers were concerned that their data could get in the hands of an entity and be used for regulatory purposes;

· 75 percent of farmers were concerned that their data could be used by a company or third party for market-sensitive commercial activities; and

· More than half of farmers indicated that they were unsure whether or not their farm data could be shared with an off-farm company’s third party, business party or affiliate.

The results of the survey proved quite helpful for in prioritizing the development of further actions on the issue of big data. For example, the survey showed 66 percent of farmers were interested in a neutral, independent data warehouse service designed to store their farm data. This led Farm Bureau to become one of ten founding members (and the only farm organization) of the Ag Data Coalition.

Last week, the coalition announced its plans to build a data repository where farmers can securely store and oversee the information collected by their tractors, harvesters, drones and other devices. If farmers wish to have their data simply stored in a location where it cannot be used for regulatory purposes or market-sensitive commercial activities, so be it. If they wish to share it with their agronomist, their seed dealer, their equipment manufacturer or others, it can be shared with the push of a button. We believe the repository will be up and running in just a few months.

Through Farm Bureau’s recently launched follow-up survey, we’ll be checking to see if any progress has been made in raising farmers’ awareness, addressing their concerns and ensuring we are properly focusing our upcoming efforts on the most important big data issues to farmers. We will use the feedback from the survey to develop recommendations on how Farm Bureau can move forward to ensure farmers understand what is going on with farm data and ways to best enhance usage of that data.

“Farmers must retain ownership and control of the private agricultural data that originates from the work they do in their fields,” AFBF President Zippy Duvall said. “Harnessing that proprietary information for field-level efficiency and effectiveness is the key that will unlock more profitability and the greater adoption of precision agriculture. That’s good for business and the environment, too.”

Take the survey at