The Climate Corporation on Friday announced the availability of its new Guiding Principles on Data and Privacy statement, as well as the formation of a new Open Agriculture Data Alliance.
According to David Friedberg, CEO of The Climate Corporation, development of new technologies in agriculture comes with some level of uncertainty about its potential implications. However, Climate Corp's plan is to immediately and transparently address some farmers' concerns about data use and privacy.
"In our experience, farmers are more likely to embrace new technologies that will drive the evolution of agricultural production when they have certainty about the use, privacy and control of the data they personally generate on their own farms," he said.
Friedberg added that the concerns can be addressed while advancing the conversation about industry standards that support farmers' needs.
"Farmers come first and we need to do what we can to make sure the industry is adopting practices and standards that do what's best for the farmer," he said.
Two years ago, Monsanto established its Integrated Farming Systems platform that aimed to combine data science with precision agriculture technologies to help farmers derive new value. Recently, these research and product development teams, along with the Precision Planting group, transitioned to The Climate Corporation, led by Friedberg.
"Throughout the process of building our platform, we've reached out to our farmer customers and industry stakeholders for their input and they've told us that farmers need to know how their data will be used and protected in order for them to embrace data science in agriculture," Friedberg said.
"The Climate Corporation believes that farmers must have control over the data they provide to us, and they must be able to move it easily across different technology platform. It's our responsibility to remove the roadblocks to the growth and adoption of these important technologies," he added.
Following the announcement, American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman said The Climate Corporation's plan was an important step toward securing widespread cooperation on big-data issues.
"We are encouraged by the fact that the company is working to address some of the concerns about data privacy, security and ownership expressed by our members," Stallman noted in a statement. "Farm Bureau will work quickly to convene formal discussions with all interested parties with a goal of securing cooperation on this emerging issue among farmers, companies and other production chain stakeholders."
The Climate Corporation is committing to several guiding principles that will drive its development of data related products and services. According to the company:
• Farmers own the data they create.
The company will make it easy for farmers to control who can access the data they provide and for what purpose, and enable farmers to easily remove that data from our systems. We will only use a farmer's data to deliver and improve the services for which they are subscribing. We will ensure safeguards are in place to protect farmer information from outside parties, and we will not sell customer-provided data to third parties.
• We will provide basic data services for farmers free of charge.
Farmers need to be able to easily create, store and access their data, and The Climate Corporation will provide basic data services free of charge.
• Farmers need to easily access and share their information across technology platforms.
The company will enable farmers to share their data across other platforms at no cost. This approach requires industry standards that enable both consistency in the collection of data and farmers' easy transfer of that data between platforms.
Open Agriculture Data Alliance
The Climate Corporation is also forming an Open Agriculture Data Alliance of providers and farmers to act as an independent body that will ensure that different platforms share common interoperability, common data formats, and security and privacy standards.
Enabling different systems to work together will give farmers more control, and can ultimately help farmers optimize yield, improve conservation practices, and improve the profitability of their operations, Climate Corp says.
Many other industries, including healthcare, banking, retail and online services, are leveraging data to deliver improved customer experiences and new value.
"As data science is applied to agriculture, The Climate Corporation understands and respects our need to earn the trust of our farmer customers," said Monsanto President and Chief Operating Officer Brett Begemann. "We're at the forefront of a revolutionary new opportunity to advance agricultural productivity. We're taking a bold step in the direction of transparency to enable the growth of this platform and to make farming more sustainable as we work to meet the demands of a growing planet."
To read the The Climate Corporation's guiding principles for data access and privacy visit www.climate.com/principles.