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Study: US farmers worried about data privacy

Three out of four U.S. farmers fear data they share with companies offering big data services may fall into the wrong hands or be used without their consent, including for commodity market speculation, according to a recent survey.

Three out of four U.S. farmers fear data they share with companies offering big data services may fall into the wrong hands or be used without their consent, including for commodity market speculation, according to a recent survey.

The American Farm Bureau Federation says in the survey of 3,380 farmers from late July to September that more than 82 percent of farmers are unsure how companies selling data-mining tools aimed at boosting yields and efficiency plan to use their data.

Despite the unease, more than half of farmers say they plan on investing in new or additional precision planting or data gathering tools in the future, according to the survey by the country's largest farmer organization.

Those using precision agriculture tools said they have reduced input costs by an average of 15 percent while boosting crop yields by 13 percent, it says.

Big agriculture companies like Monsanto and DuPont Pioneer, as well as numerous small tech startups, are investing heavily in data analysis tools that tap granular data about weather and soil composition to show farmers how to farm more efficiently and increase grain output.

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All are aiming to capture a piece of what analysts expect will grow into a multibillion-dollar market over the next decade.

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