“Farmers are concerned about who owns their data,” Villwock explained. Data on many aspects of agriculture are now shared with fertilizer dealers and seed dealers, and farmers don’t have a major problem with that, he said. “If they want to use it to help fine-tune our operations, I think farmers appreciate that.
“But they’re more concerned about how that national data, the collection or aggregation of all farmers’ data, could be used by these big companies, could potentially be sold to other entities. Who controls that data? I think that’s going to be more and more of an issue and what our delegates did today is indicate that they want us to help them protect that data,” he said.
Another reason why this has become such a hot issue is that earlier this year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released personal information about thousands of livestock and poultry farmers and ranchers in 29 states in response to requests from three environmental organizations. The massive data release contained tens of thousands of lines in spreadsheets often including home phone numbers, home emails, employee contact information, home addresses and in some cases personal notes about the families.