With the holiday season here and another year coming to a close, we would like to look back at what the ADC has accomplished this year as well as look ahead to 2018 activities. Perhaps the most significant milestone for the ADC was officially forming our non-profit organization. This seemingly small act was the result of countless hours of discussion and research by the ADC founding members to determine what organizational structure was needed to meet all the needs we were trying to address. We were finally able to agree on a structure that would enable farmers to be in control of their data, industry participants to be involved in supporting the effort while keeping data secure and the organization neutral and independent, as well as enabling universities and other research institutions to participate. The formation of the non-profit was the first step in realizing this new organization. The second part was to create or partner with a data cooperative. We had planned to work with GiSC to form the Growers Ag Data Cooperative, but unfortunately this relationship was unable to be formed. However, both groups shared common goals and continue to work together on data education efforts for the industry. While this was a setback, we are working on establishing a data cooperative that will be a sister organization to the current ADC non-profit and will be a focus during 2018.
Forming the ADC organization was not the only accomplishment in 2017, the pilot of the ADC data repository was completed providing a significant milestone on technology development. With this task completed, the ADC went “live” shortly after InfoAg offering accounts to the US ag industry. Using information collected during the pilot and by gathering feedback from some of our early adopters, we identified and implemented several improvements to the tool. We continue to refine and upgrade the system to mold the repository to meet the needs of all our various users. During this process, the website was also revamped to provide additional information about the ADC and direct interested people and entities on how to purchase accounts; check it out http://agdatacoalition.org
The ADC continues to hold regular board meetings, several of which have involved outreach and coordination with other organizations. We have established a relationship with AgGateway through reciprocal memberships, have shared lessons learned with groups from places all over the globe including the US, Canada, the Netherlands, Australia, and New Zealand. Through these conversations, we confirmed the issues facing farmers in the US over data control are not unique and look forward to working with some of these organizations in the future to help ensure farmers globally are in control of their data.
We worked with Meister Media to host our first webinar that was hugely successful. There were people from all over the world registered to hear the conversation from the panel on ag data ownership and control. There were so many questions, the panel had to work for a couple days after the webinar to completely answer them. This is reassurance we are on the right path with the ADC and data control is an issue that concerns farmers and needs to be addressed across the industry. The board is also fielding regular calls from the media looking for insight into the ag data industry and how it impacts recent mergers and acquisitions in the industry, what it means for startups and innovation in the ag industry, and how all the different organizations and initiatives in the industry fit together.
2017 was a busy time getting the organization established and launching the data repository. As 2018 approaches, we plan to accelerate the activities that we feel we are at a crucial point in the ag industry. Farmers are starting to see the value in data as organizations like AgGateway and AEF (Agricultural industry Electronics Foundation) work to solve some of the interoperability issues that hinder broader adoption of many precision technologies. Additionally, ag tech investment continues to create a seemingly endless stream of startups focused on using a farmer’s data to provide insights improving overall farm operations. These startups are now also starting to be acquired by the larger, major players in the industry. The merger and acquisition of some large ag companies have also had a data component to this business decision, further illustrating the need for farmers to be in control of their data with a neutral, independent data repository.
To support farmers in 2018, we have several key areas of focus. First we will be looking to create the coop and add dedicated staff to help manage the operations of both organizations. The coop is needed to manage commercial operations and truly put growers in control of their data and the platform, also allowing the non-profit to focus more on education and outreach. With both organizations formed and dedicated staff, we also expect to see growth in both membership in the non-profit as more organizations sign on to support the effort as well as more farmers, service providers, and research organizations signing up for accounts.
Further, the ADC will continue our success with the data ownership webinar by hosting several more sessions with expert panels on similar data related topics. There is clearly a demand from all over the industry to better understand many of the issues facing growers as data becomes a more integral part of farm operations. We are also investigating options for different venues to further the discussion and other collaborations to help farmers understand the rapidly evolving ag data market.
If there are any questions, comments, suggestions you have or even just general feedback you can contact the ADC anytime over email at firstname.lastname@example.org, through twitter @agdatacoaltion, or on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/company/10513332
Thanks for all you support in 2017 and we look forward to achieving even more in 2018.
The ADC Board of Directors