Why create a Model Ag Data Use Agreement?

Because ag data contracts are, for the most part, a mess.

Last year, over 2000 farmers were asked in a poll whether their ag data contracts addressed ownership and use of data. 9% answered an outright “no” and 65% answered “I am not sure.” Think about that from an industry perspective. That means 77% of farmers either did not understand their contracts, or their ag tech provider was not answering some of the most basic questions about use of ag data.

As the administrator for the Ag Data Transparent project, I read a lot of contracts that purport to address ag data issues. This work has shown me the inconsistency from contract to contract. And most of the ag tech providers I’ve spoken to have good intentions, but it does not always translate to a good agreement.

A “model” agreement was needed to help bring some order to this chaos. Years ago, the ag industry worked to create a set of “Core Principles” around ag data collection, storage, use and control. The Ag Data Transparent certification is built around these principles. Each of the 10 questions required for certification point directly back to one of the core principles.

The Model Agreement addresses each of the 10 questions, and in turn, each of the 10 core principles they represent. For example, one section of the Model Agreement is dedicated to addressing ag data ownership. Another section is dedicated to ag data portability. And other section is dedicated to addressing what happens to ag data at termination.

Many online platforms are at war with regulators over data privacy and control (Facebook, Google). In contrast, American Farm Bureau once described the Ag Data Core Principles as the ag tech industry’s “peace treaty” with farmers. Of course, a peace treaty is only as good as its implementation.

The Model Ag Data Use Agreement is one way we’ve made it simpler for ag tech providers to be at peace with their farmer and rancher customers. You can download it here.