Big Data helps farmers’ lives and work in countless ways. However, fear of over-regulation and unethical use of data means that many farmers are concerned about their privacy. As someone working with ag data – whether as a marketer or an ag tech provider (ATP) –here are some ways you can address those data privacy concerns.
Most farmers have some degree of concern about the use of their personal data. These concerns are going to be your “elephant in the room” anytime you’re talking with farmers; especially when you’re trying to collect information from them.
And it can be tricky to address the issue head-on. On the one hand, you want farmers to know they can trust you with their information. But on the other hand, you can’t be so strict with data privacy that you shoehorn yourself into a position where you can’t use the data.
Here are some ways that you can address farmers’ privacy concerns and show them the value of Big Data in their lives.
Show Farmers the Value of Big Data
It’s projected that farmers will need to feed nine billion people by 2050. That’s a feat that will require farm operations to scale in ways they haven’t before.
Today’s farms require Big Data to be successful. If farmers don’t embrace data analytics – and even machine learning and AI – to help them make strategic decisions, they could risk losing profits and productivity.
In short, the future of the ag industry rests in good use of data and technology.
But when asked to provide the necessary data, farmers respond with the following questions:
Why do you need to know this?
What are you going to do with this information?
Who are you going to share the information with?
If you’re met with these questions, don’t view them as roadblocks. Rather, view them as opportunities to share the importance and benefits of Big Data with the farmers. That way, farmers can understand the value being offered not just to them, but to the entire ag industry.
For example, farmers can use data to select the best crops to plant, when to plant them and what marketing strategies to use to sell them. It also helps farmers manage their business resources more efficiently – so they have the right product in the right barn where it’s needed.
Farmers and ranchers are committed to growing and raising the food, fiber and fuel for the world’s future needs. Accurate data will help them get the products, equipment and services they depend on to accomplish their goals.
If they clearly understand the need and the importance of data in the ag industry, then they may be more likely to share theirs with you.
Build Trust by Protecting Your Ag Data
When it comes to data, gaining and keeping your farmers’ trust is crucial. In order to build that trust, it’s imperative that you take steps to protecting their data.
We already talked about four practices to protect your ag customers’ data here. While these certainly aren’t exclusive, they’re a good place to start.
Protecting data is about more than security; it’s about trust. Farmers trust you. That trust is the core of your relationship with them, and will lay the foundation for all your future dealings with them.
Communicate How You’re Protecting Farmers’ Data Privacy
You and your farmers should strike a balance between data privacy and fully realizing the benefits that data provides. It’s also important for both of you to agree on standards for data collection and privacy.
For example, in response to privacy concerns that were outlined by their survey, the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) helped to form a coalition of agriculture technology providers (ATPs) and farmers to address issues and set industry standards. These standards include guidelines on the collection, storage and analysis of data by big data providers and marketing firms.
However, both ag tech providers and farmers must agree on who owns the data and how it will be used. It’s a wise idea to document your data policies and share them with farmers before you begin offering data services.
Whatever you do specifically to keep your farmers in the loop, communicating with them will go a long way to reassuring them of the value you’re providing, and help to stave off concerns regarding their privacy.
Reaching a solution that will allow farmers to capture the benefits of big data and address any privacy concerns is a challenging but crucial step that you must take. These three steps should make it easier to address the privacy concerns of your farmers.