The protocol is about shedding 'greater light on contractual relations' and providing guidance on the rights to access and use of agriculture data.
Access to accurate agricultural data is vital to develop digital farming and to, therefore, enable farmers and cooperatives to produce more using less resources, said the signatories of the new code, which included the European Feed Manufacturers' Federation (FEFAC) and EU farmers lobby group, Copa and Cogeca, among others.
However, sharing data between different partners in the agro-food chain must be conducted in a fair and transparent way to fully reap the benefits of digital farming, they stressed.
Arnaud Bouxin, deputy secretary general, FEFAC, said the coalition partners are well aware of the value of ‘big data’ in agriculture and livestock farming, and the critical role it can play in terms of supporting precision farming and feeding. However, all parties had identified data ownership and the conditions for data sharing as awkward topics that needed some form of cross-sector agreement to avoid conflicts between farmers and input industries, he told us.
Hence, this initiative.
“The code of conduct took two years of work, but the recognition from the European Commission shows it was the right decision,” he added.
The publication recognizes the need to grant the data originator the right to determine who can access and use the data.
“Unintentional and uninformed sharing of data can disadvantage the data originators and the value chain,” noted the guidance.
Feed case study
A case study related to compound feed manufacturing is referenced, for illustrative purposes, in the guidelines:
A feed manufacturer proposes a service designed to optimize FCR to pig farmers, and, to this end, the feed producer asks a service provider to implement sensors to measure the amount of feed consumed by a group of pigs and to collect information on the weight of the animals, the amount of water they drink, and other parameters related to the breed, age and sex of the pigs, the housing, etc.
The compound feed manufacturer processes and aggregates the data to evaluate the performance of different types of feed formulation (ingredients, nutritional value) across the different farms and to compare the differences against the designated parameters. Based on that, the manufacturer is able to provide the pig farmer with advice on how to best to use the feed, indicating the adjustments required in their production.
In such cases, the pig farmer is the data originator, the service provider is the data provider and the feed manufacturer is the data user, according to the guidelines.
The nature of the processes that the feed manufacturer intends to perform and to whom the data will be accessible should be defined in the contract.
The contract should also specify to which other data users the farmer may provide the data, for example a dairy cooperative, and under which conditions, considering that the set of data may contain not only the data from the use of the feed on the farm but also the composition of the feed – in which case the feed manufacturer is the data originator and, thus, can claim IP rights on that particular data set.