Ag Data Watch Dogs

Jul 20, 2021

Who’s watching your farm data?

A better question for farmers might be… who isn’t watching your data?

And could NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) be the solution? NFTs allow people to purchase and own “original” data content and are based on blockchain technology. They’re entirely unique and have software code consisting of smart contracts: once one is minted onto a token on the blockchain, it’s permanent.

In an agricultural setting, this means an AgTech company would attach an NFT to a specific dataset that would be uploaded to its servers and could create a single dataset for its farmer-data-originators. Any copies made of this data would violate the owner’s permission.

Backstory: Currently, there’s not much oversight in place to look out for farmers and how their data is used. At this point, Ag Data Transparent (ADT) is the only organization doing that work.

“ADT certifies companies that commit to be transparent about how they collect, store, use, share, and delete farmers’ ag data.” And they have certified almost 30 AgTech and ag industry legacy companies in a few years.

Who’s behind this ADT? A few farmer-trusted organizations including the National Farm Bureau, National Farmers Union, and national commodity organizations.

The bottom-line: “Datasets that work for farmers need to be created,” said Bill Northey, the USDA’s Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation. More than anything? Farmers need to feel comfortable knowing who has access to their data.