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February 13, 2014

Farmer Addresses Technology, Data Privacy Concerns

For more information on Newsline, contact: Kari Barbic, Media Specialist, American Farm Bureau Federation, karib@fb.org.

Farmers have used technology to improve their management practices and efficiency on the farm for years, but the agriculture industry is just now starting to consider potential issues regarding technology and data privacy. Seanica Otterby has the story.
Otterby:Missouri Farmer Brian Marshall says technology is important on his farm, helping reduce input costs and operator fatigue while increasing productivity.
Marshall:Row shutoffs on planters, for example. Planters have been getting larger over the years and making us more efficient. One of the tradeoffs to that is that a lot of fields are irregular shaped. So anytime you pull a 40- or a 60-foot wide planter into something that’s already been planted, you’re going to have overlap. On my planter, I have clutches on each row so they can shut the rows off two at a time.
Otterby:As a farmer, Marshall’s biggest concern about data privacy is unknown and potentially negative uses of the data.
Marshall:When you consider how many combines are running through the field at any one time during harvest, that those combines are all uploading data to the Cloud, if someone’s collecting that data, it would have a real sway on the market. We’re talking about very usable, very accurate data, and that data has a value to it.
Otterby:Marshall testified to the House Small Business Committee Tuesday about this issue to raise awareness about potential negative uses. He hopes the ag industry can cooperate on this issue in order to avoid burdensome regulatory oversight. Seanica Otterby, Washington.

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