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November 18th, 2014
Summit to Shine Light on Big Data Debate for Farmers

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ST. CHARLES, Ill., Nov. 18, 2014—Farm Futures, the leading U.S. ag business information resource for farmers and producers, will feature a special session focusing on the pros and cons of Big Data, one of the hottest topics in agriculture. The Big Data debate is one of 21 sessions that will take place during the 2015 Farm Futures Business Summit, to be held Jan. 7-8 at the Hilton at the Ballpark Hotel in St. Louis.

Big Data promises to help farmers on the profit side, but issues of ownership and control continue to unfold.

“While companies have collected and analyzed agronomic data for some time, the amount of real-time information we can collect now is staggering,” says Brian Marshall, a Missouri farmer who will speak at the summit. “It is a big change that is cause for both excitement and concern.”

Several agricultural equipment firms have introduced technology whereby the data from combines is uploaded every few seconds to the Cloud. Real-time yield data is available to whoever controls those databases. But more important, who owns and controls the data?

“A farmer’s information is valuable, so farmers should have a say in and be compensated when their data is sold,” says Marshall. “Farmers need to protect their data and make sure they bargain wisely as they share it with suppliers and interested companies.”

Along with Marshall, the panel includes Mary Kay Thatcher, American Farm Bureau Federation; Bruce Erickson, education distance and outreach director, Purdue University; and Jim Krogmeier, Open Ag Data Alliance. Max Armstrong, co-host of the popular This Week in Agribusiness TV program and Farm Progress America radio programs, will emcee the debate.

Better risk managers

The summit will also focus on risk management in 2015. “We’re gearing up to help farmers combat difficult economic challenges by boosting their business and marketing skills,” says the magazine’s Executive Editor, Mike Wilson.

Sessions will focus on global demand, marketing, estate planning, employee management, business and landlord relationships, crop budgeting, crop insurance choices, the new farm bill, and future technology such as drones used for agriculture. The summit is held in early January so young people on college break can attend.

“Whether you are a young farmer or a senior manager, this meeting is all about getting better so you are prepared for tighter profit margins in the year ahead,” adds Wilson.

Early bird discount

Farm Futures’ earlybird registration discount ends Dec. 1, 2014. Participants who register by that date pay $349 per person, a savings of $150 off the regular rate; early bird partners can attend for just $299. The student rate is $199 per person.

For agenda, registration and hotel booking links, go to

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