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Move to protect farm information

December 15, 2014

Move to protect farm information

Farmers can be more confident their information is being protected as organisations handling their data sign up to a new code of practice.

DairyNZ and the Ministry for Primary Industries have funded development of the new Farm Data Code of Practice and associated data standards through the Primary Growth Partnership (PGP), with a contribution from FarmIQ Systems in the first year and co-funding from the Red Meat Profit Partnership this year.

The funding organisations are all involved in PGP programmes that focus on innovation in farming and food processing, and as part of this they are driving new developments in farm data recording, storage, analysis and reporting. This led to awareness of the need for a code to guide fair behaviour and standards to get consistency.

The advantages for farmers will be good security of information and transparency about what it's being used for, says DairyNZ strategy investment manager Jenny Jago. "With this in place, data sharing across organisations will be easier and less expensive - reducing the need for farmers to supply the same information more than once. In the long run, the code and standards should help encourage innovation in farming and data use."

Red Meat Profit Partnership project manager Michael Smith says common standards and processes are fundamental for integrating farmers' data and enabling us to create benchmarks - from which all farmers can get value. "We're looking to set up benchmarking tools that let farmers understand their past performance and compare themselves with their peers."

Agricultural software development company Rezare Systems is managing the project which started in June 2012.

There has been significant pastoral industry co-operation in all aspects. A steering group has overseen the development of the code and data standards, and six industry organisations provided the mandate for the establishment of the Code of Practice.

"This project has shown that many types of farm data are being collected or created," says Rezare managing director Andrew Cooke. "The organisations using farm information range from small ones offering specific software-based services such as helping farmers manage effluent or forecasting, through to companies offering animal management services, fertiliser suppliers and banks, and even regional councils and others in the compliance space.

"Some of the data relates directly to what's happening on the farm, and other data has been generated or calculated by companies at their own cost.

"The key point is the need for open and transparent discussions about farm data. People need to be clear and up-front."

A number of organisations are now in the process of applying for accreditation under the Farm Data Code of Practice, which was completed in June 2014. It defines what is expected of organisations that store, handle or move data on behalf of New Zealand pastoral farmers. Organisations must sign a statutory declaration as part of the application process.

An independent review panel is being set up to assess the applications, and this should be up and running in early 2015.

The data standards that are being developed will help the process by encouraging organisations to use the same term to describe one type of data within a database. This will get computer systems talking the same language. For example, the terms for various classes of stock are being standardised under the Stock Reconciliation Standard, which was completed and published in September. The Financial Data Standard, also published in September, standardises terms for farm financial information and also key performance indicators.

Four further standards are being developed, covering: animal data, land application data, feed and grazing data, and irrigation and effluent data.

Accreditation under the code is a voluntary process, and organisations that become accredited will be able to use a trademark to show their participation. They will undergo a three-yearly review of their practices.

About DairyNZ
DairyNZ is the industry organisation representing New Zealand's dairy farmers. Our purpose is to secure and enhance the profitability, sustainability and competitiveness of New Zealand dairy farming. For more information, visit www.dairynz.co.nz

ENDS

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