Ten years after American Farm Bureau Federation first publicized the Ag Data Core Principles, the Ag Data Transparent organization undertook the effort to update the principles to reflect changes in the ag data market. This post explores some of the significant changes to the updated Core Principles.

New Simple Contracts Principle. The original principles were all about transparency. Part of transparency requires favoring simplicity over complexity, and the education principle advised companies to draft simple, easy to understand contracts. As any farmer knows, the technology contracts in 2024 have largely not lived up to ideal. Thus, the updated Core Principles make “Simple Contracts” is own stand along principle to elevate the importance. It states: 

Simple Contracts. Providers should strive to draft contracts using simple, easy to understand language. When possible, providers should incorporate all of the relevant terms and conditions regarding data collection and use into a single, data use agreement or policy. 

Requiring Identification of Parties. The original core principles required companies to define certain key terms, such as “partners,” “business partners,” and “ag technology partners.” Ten years later, these terms are not universally used or understood in ag data contracts, so a redo was in order. The updated Core Principles now require companies to define those parties that may have access to ag data, using terms that are commonly used and understood in data contracts: 

(1) integration partners—connecting the farmer’s ag data to another provider’s platform; 

(2) business partners—companies that might have access to the farmer’s ag data through a business relationship; 

(3) affiliates—companies that might have access to ag data because of a corporate relationship with the provider; 

(4) trusted advisors—persons trusted by the farmer to access their ag data. 

New Anonymization and AI Principle. Most ag data collectors will anonymize datasets collected from farmers for use in tools and services. The original core principles did not discuss anonymization, creating the need for a new principle in 2024. The updated Core Principles require companies to explain whether data is anonymized and whether a farmer can opt out of contributing to the anonymized and aggregated dataset. Also, reflecting the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) tools on the horizon, the updated principle requires companies to explain if the farmer’s ag data will be used for training AI models. Here is the entire principle. 

Anonymization and Aggregation:  A provider should explain whether a farmer’s ag data is included in anonymized and aggregated datasets. Providers should explain whether a user can opt-out of aggregated datasets. Anonymized datasets should be constructed to avoid identification of a single farm or user.Providers should explain whether ag data will be used in training machine learning or artificial intelligence models. 

These are not the only changes to the Core Principles, but the three discussed above are new additions that will help fill some of the gaps created by the evolving state of ag data collection and use in the industry. What do you think is still missing?