Who do you share your data with?
Sharing data is a current conversation topic among dairy farmers. For many, it is an elusive phenomenon, that soon gives the impression that all kinds of organizations run off with farmers’ data. For that particular reason, a platform, owned by farmers, is essential. It allows for control of data and a safe exchange, Wil Meulenbroeks believes.
He notices it from discussions and sees it at his own dairy farm in Lage Mierde, in the province of Brabant: there is an increased amount of data, which can be rather useful. But there is a flip side to it: how to ensure that you keep control of your own data, now that computers and algorithms make more and more things go automatically?
As chairman of the professional group Milk Cattle breeders of LTO Nederland, Meulenbroeks has frequent discussions with co-dairy farmers about this theme. He has experienced skepticism from part of his constituency. “I always ask: do you know who you authorized for the use of your data?” In most cases, this question cannot be answered, or I get an evasive answer. “In that case, we often say that we must look into this. But if we are being honest, we admit that in many cases things have not been arranged properly.”
According to the manager, most dairy farmers realize that they should improve their data management. Because who has access to your data and what do these parties do with it? In a world where data is becoming more and more important and sometimes ends up in the hands of parties with less good intentions, you’d better have an instrument at your disposal to keep control of your own data. “Many cattle breeders lack overview and fear that their data will fall into the wrong hands. That is why we founded JoinData. LTO Nederland is a member of this corporation, that is entirely owned by farmer organizations and -corporations. That gives us the authority to properly manage the data ourselves.”
In practice, Meulenbroeks identifies that cattle breeders aren’t always enthusiastic about JoinData. “That is a shame, because often this is based on a misunderstanding. Farmers sometimes believe that JoinData does all kinds of things with their data that they are not in control of. But that is specifically not the issue. JoinData only ensures that farmers can easily and safely share their data. The digital freeway and the authorization-platform of JoinData give the farmer control. The organization itself has no access to your data. You can compare it with a utility like the electricity network.”
The use of JoinData costs 50 Euros per year. According to Meulenbroeks that is a reasonable amount of money. “I, myself, meanwhile experienced how the JoinData dashboard works. It provides a good overview and you can instantly see whether you have granted authorizations that are now redundant. Those can easily be deactivated.” By having all authorizations managed via JoinData, things also become more efficient. “Some parties have already decided that they will abolish the costs for data sharing, that they would pass on to farmers. So then, part of those 50 Euros is earned back already.”
As soon as all farmers make use of JoinData, a lot more data can be utilized to, for example, make even smarter programs and apps. Meulenbroeks is certainly not an opponent to new smart applications, but warns: “JoinData has no access to the data and can thus not play a commercial role here. The only thing that the organization does is facilitating data sharing. If a commercial party wants to use data of farmers to develop new products, they must ask the farmers.” The dairy farmer gives an example from his own practice: “I occasionally get a call from an agency that wants data concerning our business. Then I ask what they are willing to pay for it, because they will resell that data. They don’t want to pay us for it, so then I refuse to cooperate.”
Companies that want to utilize data of farmers must agree on that with the farmers. And as soon as they come to an agreement, there is a safe and easy way to share the data: JoinData.