AHDB proposes first ever UK code to protect farmer data

A farmer consultation has opened to help devise a code of practice to promote the safe sharing of data across agriculture.

The code, which will be shaped by AHDB, will present a set of principles designed to create trust and transparency between farmers and the third parties they share data with.  

See also: How data can work for your farm business

“The use of data is transforming every industry, including agriculture, and we need to have the systems in place to embrace this,” said AHDB chief strategy officer Tom Hind.

Mr Hind added that the lack of a coherent set of principles that the agri-food sector could sign up to was a significant gap which meant data was not being shared in the volumes he would like to see.

“There are potentially huge productivity gains to be made from better data sharing throughout the supply chain,” he said. “But these will not be realised unless farmers are confident that their data will be used responsibly and its use supports their business.”

Existing codes

Data sharing codes already exist in New Zealand, the US and Europe, with their main purpose to protect farmers’ rights in respect of the data that is created from their agricultural operations.

Rezare Systems UK managing director Julian Gairdner, who is leading the project on AHDB’s behalf, said farmers should have complete control over where they released or shared their data.

“The code we developed in New Zealand was strongly focused on this and has subsequently led to other initiatives to standardise data and provide flexible technologies to transmit and share it,” Mr Gairdner said.

Rezare has already conducted a series of stakeholder workshops to devise a draft code of practice.

“Over 60 organisations and farmers took part, but now we need more farmers to have their say through the online survey,” he said.

The survey, which can be found on the AHDB website, is a short questionnaire that should take about five minutes.

It is intended to gauge farmer views on the importance of sharing data, the relevance of a code, and how it should operate and be governed.

The consultation will run until Friday 30 November 2018, with the code to be finalised and rolled out in the new year.

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