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Latest from Janzen Ag Law Blog

Wind power in my part of the world has become a very popular “clean” energy source for power companies. Wind power has also become very controversial, leading to highly contentious zoning fights at the county level. This article discusses three legal items for landowners to consider before signing an agreement to allow construction of wind turbines on their fields by a developer. Zoning. Large-scale wind turbine projects often become extremely contentious at the county level.…
As one farmer recently told me, “If we can’t make money grain farming, we might as well farm the sun.” Clean energy is hot on the farm, and its more than anaerobic digesters and windmills. Many farmers are being approached by solar energy developers who ask them to sign up acres of farmland for conversion into solar farms. These farmers are presented with very long-term leases that take farm ground out of production for decades.…
A reporter recently asked me if there are examples of ways in which new ag technologies can actually increase a farmer’s liabilities. As I thought about the question, I concluded usually the opposite is true—ag tech decreases risk by improving accuracy and efficiency, lessening unknowns. Autosteer is a great example. It was able to increase the precision of the tractor and therefore decrease fuel, seed, fertilizer and pesticide usage. Likewise, autosteer decreased the risk that…
A recent Forbes article touts that “Carbon Labels are Finally Coming to the Food and Beverage Industry.”  The article cites examples from the UK and US where food packagers are voluntarily adopting and labeling their products with carbon rating.  For example, chicken breast might have a carbon score of 5.9kg CO2e/kg, while blueberries have a carbon score of 1.5kg CO2e/kg (Source: Quorn).  Carbon labeling advocates envision a world where all consumer products are labeled and buyers…
My dad, a retired Kansas farmer and cattleman, recently sent me an article about one startup company that hopes to release an army of small robots that go up and down row crop fields during the growing season, mowing any weeds in their path. I categorize this type of concept as “swarm farming”—the idea that many, small autonomous robots can perform the same task that today is done by large, farmer-driven machines. The big questions…
You may have missed the release of a farmer survey about ag data during the middle of the first COVID-19 wave. In May 2020, an organization called Trust in Food, a collaboration of Farm Journal and The Sustainability Consortium, released the results of its survey of 393 farmers about their opinions on ag data collection, sharing and sustainability (Farmer Perspectives on Data). Here is a summary followed by some concluding thoughts. Of the…
While participating in a recent podcast hosted by United Soybean Board’s Tech Toolshed (Getting to know Ag Data Transparent), the host asked this question: What does data transparency mean? I asked a few industry leaders about what “data transparency” means to them. Billy Tiller, CEO of Grower Information Services Cooperation (GiSC) and Texas farmer: Transparency means that the farmer understands what is happening to their data. The farmer is a businessman and should…
As someone who is immersed in legal issues related to data privacy and ownership, it should come as no surprise that I have a Google alert set up so that I get notified when a company uses the words “transparency” and “ag data” in a sentence. I get 2-5 emails per week, so there is still a lot of buzz in the industry surrounding ag data. What I observe from the email traffic is interesting.…
The National Farmers Federation of Australia has published a Farm Data Code to assist tech providers with development of policies for collection of agricultural data. The Australian Farm Data Code arrived nearly five years after the North America’s “Core Principles” for ag data, the Privacy and Security Principles for Farm Data, so I thought it would be worth examining how these two documents compare, and whether Australian Farm Data Code is a refinement of North…
The struggles of the dairy industry have been widely covered by the farm press and national news organizations. Decreased fluid milk consumption, large dairy processor bankruptcies, small dairy exits, and the rise of plant-based alternatives are all causing headaches for the industry. But there is a bright spot. The demand for clean energy is causing a resurgence in interest in anaerobic digesters. Although digesters have been “on the horizon” for years, the economics never made…