In February, the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) released Australia’s first Farm Data Code. This is a great step forward in Australia toward protecting the data rights of farmers and follows the earlier releases of similar codes from New Zealand, the USA and the EU.
Food Agility participated in the consultation process. We were very pleased to see a number of our recommendations adopted including:
A few years ago, Rural Research and Development Corporations surveyed 1,000 producers across 17 industries. Almost all of them were collecting on-farm data but three out of four knew little about the terms and conditions relating to data collection in their agreements with service providers. Even more worrying was that where data was shared with service or technology providers, more than half didn’t trust those providers to protect their privacy.
The Farm Data Code is about building trust between the data originators (usually farmers), service providers and technological innovators. There are significant benefits to all parties if data is managed in a transparent way that protects privacy and gives a level of control to the people who generate the data.
On the one hand, sharing data can help farmers unlock the crucial insights hidden within all of those ones and zeros, helping them to refine their practices and improve productivity, profitability and sustainability. On the other hand, access to great data drives research and technological innovation that benefits the whole sector.
Even if farmers don’t know the intricacies of data and how it works, they can be assured that companies adhering to the Farm Data Code are more likely to handle farm data in a fair and ethical way. Many companies will see the value in adopting the Code to build trust with farmers.
However, it is only voluntary so there are a number of questions a farmer can ask their technology and service providers about thei management of data that originates from them. First and foremost, they should ask whether they comply with the Australian Farm Data Code and to see the terms in their contract that relate to data. Here are some other questions to ask:
Camilla Roberts is Food Agility CRC's Chief of Ventures. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.