Ground rules for farm data

NFF set ground rules for farm data use

Machinery
The National Farmers' Federation believe the first iteration of the Australian Farm Data Code will give farmers confidence in how their data is used, while not inhibiting new technologies. Photo: John Deere

The National Farmers' Federation believe the first iteration of the Australian Farm Data Code will give farmers confidence in how their data is used, while not inhibiting new technologies. Photo: John Deere

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The National Farmers Federation have released a Farm Data Code aimed at protecting farmer data

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At the moment Australian farmers are handing over a commodity, one which could potentially affect how their land is valued or how the banks assess their income, with less protections or rights than given to the owner of a microwave.

In an age of social media, where the average person hands international mega-corporations access to their personal information for the price of an online quiz, its easy to see why we have become complacent.

Here steps in the National Farmers' Federation and its working group of industry specialists, technology providers and researchers.

Released earlier this year, the NFF believe the first iteration of the Australian Farm Data Code will give farmers confidence in how their data is used, while not inhibiting new technologies.

NFF farm data working group chair Andrea Koch said the Farm Data Code fills a clear gap in the sector's data governance arrangements.

"The Precision 2 Decision project completed in 2017 identified trust as a key barrier to technology adoption in the farm sector," she said.

"Farmers want to know how the data collected by machinery, satellites and sensors is being used, and who it's being shared with. They also need to have some control in that process."

Ms Kocj said similar concerns had been raised overseas, leading to the establishment of codes of practice to set expectations on how data should be managed.

"Voluntary codes have already emerged in the USA, New Zealand and Europe. Australia has been less advanced when it comes to protecting farmers' data, but we have used this as an opportunity to learn from what is happening in those other markets," she said.

"In consultation with industry, we've now reviewed global best practice to deliver an Australian Code suited to Australia's agtech ecosystem."

Ms Koch said the Farm Data Code would not rid agriculture of poor practices overnight, but was an important step in raising the bar.

"As a voluntary initiative, the Code aims to inform service providers about the standards they should meet in their data policies, and help farmers navigate the complex topic of data use," she said.

"Over time, we'll explore ways to communicate which providers meet the standard set by the Code, and which fall short.

Ms Koch said the National Farmers' Federation believes technology adoption will play a key role in achieving the sector's goal of $100 billion in farm gate output by 2030.

"Modelling by the Australian Farm Institute has shown we can add $20.3 billion to annual farm output by embracing digital technology. It's an opportunity too big to ignore," she said.

"It's critical to lay the groundwork so farmers are the beneficiaries of digital disruption, capturing a fair share of the value that new technologies will create.

"The Farm Data Code is a crucial step in that journey."

A copy of the code can be found on the NFF website.

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