Updated Core Principles for Ag Data (2024)
Janzen Ag Tech Blog
by Todd Janzen
3w ago
In 2014, American Farm Bureau Federation led industry roundtable discussions about collection, use, and sharing of agricultural data from farmers. The result of those discussions was the creation of a document called the Privacy and Security Principles for Farm Data, what later became knowns as the “Core Principles” for ag data. Over 37 companies quickly pledged to uphold these principles in 2014 (many failed to live up to that pledge). The Ag Data Transparent (ADT) used these principles as the foundation for the ADT certification, which over 40 companies have achieved. But technology (and far ..read more
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Insets vs. Offsets on the Farm
Janzen Ag Tech Blog
by Todd Janzen
3w ago
Climate change has brought new words into our vocabularies that barely existed a decade ago.  Two words frequently used when discussing reduction of the carbon footprint for agriculture are “insets” and “offsets.”  This post explores these terms as they pertain specifically to agriculture. As a threshold matter, these are not legal terms and are thus somewhat imprecise and not universally defined and accepted.  Carbon Offsets.  The EPA defines an “offset” as a project that is intended to reduce green house gas (GHG) emissions, increase the storage of carbon, or enhance GHG ..read more
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Who is a "Foreign Person" in the Eyes of USDA?
Janzen Ag Tech Blog
by Todd Janzen
2M ago
Midwestern politicians are drumming up support for increased oversight of foreign ownership of US agricultural farmland.  At the state and federal level, there are bills seeking to reduce or increase reporting obligations for foreign ownership of farmland. Arkansas even went so far as to order Syngenta (whose parent company is Chinese) to divest 160 acres of Arkansas farmland used for research and development.  Although these efforts may seem new, the reality is that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has been requiring “foreign persons” to identify themselves when pu ..read more
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Using Ag Data to Win Your Case
Janzen Ag Tech Blog
by Todd Janzen
3M ago
Farm Journal’s recent article featured one of our long-fought cases against the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for crop damage (Damned by Data: State Destroys Farmer’s Yield, Pays $810,000 in Damages). As explained in the article, our case depended on explaining periodic and partial flooding of farm fields over a course of years to the court. Fortunately, our client, Charlie Houin, had been collecting good data about the Houin family farm fields for years. And this helped us win our case. The Houin case involved a lake dam that had been mismanaged by the Indiana DNR. About a doz ..read more
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AI, the Black Box, and Transparency
Janzen Ag Tech Blog
by Todd Janzen
4M ago
Artificial intelligence (AI) use is on the rise in agriculture and elsewhere, thanks to generative AI platforms like OpenAI’s ChatGPT. AI is often described as a Black Box, where data is fed into the box and decisions are made, without anyone knowing exactly how the Black Box arrived at the result. Considering that the AI decisions are made in secrecy, is there room for a discussion of transparency when talking about AI? Yes. AI tools require vast amounts of training data to make informed, accurate decisions. Where that training data originated, and from whom, matters when building an AI tool ..read more
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Translating AI's Legal Issues for Agriculture
Janzen Ag Tech Blog
by Todd Janzen
5M ago
I was fortunate to be asked to testify before the US Senate Agricultural Committee recently about the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on agriculture. Although AI and its simpler cousin machine learning (ML) have operated behind the scenes for years already, 2023 is the first time that AI and ML really entered the public discourse. It is clear to me that agriculture, like other industries, needs time to digest what AI means for the future. This post explores how to apply AI’s often discussed legal issues to agriculture. Bias. AI “bias” refers to the implicit biases in the values that det ..read more
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More Thoughts on that Emoji Grain Contract
Janzen Ag Tech Blog
by Todd Janzen
11M ago
A recent story has been making the rounds on ag websites about how a Canadian farmer agreed to a grain contract by texting a “thumbs-up” emoji. The farmer received a text message with an image of a grain contract offering to purchase 86 tons of flax for $17 per bushel. The contract was signed by the purchaser and asked the farmer to “please confirm flax contract.”  The farmer answered with a thumbs up emoji, which a Canadian court determined legally signified his agreement. Farm Journal asked me about this case and I responded that I thought the result would be the same in the US. He ..read more
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Ag Data Collection for the USDA's Climate-Smart Commodities
Janzen Ag Tech Blog
by Todd Janzen
1y ago
The USDA’s Partnership for Climate-Smart Commodities program represents an investment of over $3.1 billion into US agriculture.  The statistics for the program huge:  USDA selected 141 proposals from corporations, non-profits, and universities were selected to study ways to increase climate-smart production practices for US farmers and livestock producers. USDA estimates that over the next 5 years more than 60 million tons of carbon dioxide will be sequestered as a result of the program. You can learn more about specific programs on the USDA’s dashboard for Climate-Smart Commodities ..read more
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Understanding the Legal Issues for AI in Agriculture
Janzen Ag Tech Blog
by Todd Janzen
1y ago
FBN recently unveiled “Norm,” an artificial intelligence (AI) advisor for FBN members. Norm may be the first dedicated artificial intelligence platform for farmers, but it will not be the last. AI is definitely on the rise in agriculture and elsewhere. This post explores questions about AI’s use in general and for agriculture. What is AI technology?  First, some basics. AI stands for “artificial intelligence.”  According to Dr. Anastasia Lauterbach, contributor to The Law of Artificial Intelligence and Smart Machines, AI should be thought of as “narrow” AI or “general” AI. Narro ..read more
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Five Areas of Law to Update to Pave the Way for Autonomous Farm Equipment
Janzen Ag Tech Blog
by Todd Janzen
1y ago
Autonomous farming machines are coming. John Deere now sells an autonomous 8R tractor. Various companies offer large, commercial sized unmanned Ariel vehicles (UAVs) that can autonomously apply pesticides. Lely sells robotic milking machines. Some farmers may lament the loss of a person controlling these tasks, but the trend for more automation in farming is clear. Still, there are existing laws that will need to be updated to foster widespread adoption of these new technologies. Here are just a few. OSHA. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) establishes worker safety stan ..read more
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