Husch Blackwell’s precision agriculture team continues to work with clients and industry representatives on important legal and risk management issues related to the collection, management, ownership, protection and use of agricultural data.  Joan Archer was recently quoted in an article on the use of farm data published by Country Guide, Canada’s oldest farm publication.

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Yesterday, Husch Blackwell attorneys focused on the firm’s precision agriculture initiative, Matt Grant and Bob Wilkinson, attended the “Agriculture and Data: Finding What Works” conference organized by the Precision Ag media group. The event took place at the airport Marriott in St. Louis, Missouri and was attended by a cross-section of providers and

Recently, many speakers at conferences and authors in blogs have focused on the seeming conundrum as to who owns the farm data collected and/or created using precision ag technologies, as well as the related question of who must protect the data and how. Many have proposed legislation as an (unlikely) solution, while others have attempted to gain industry agreement as to ownership rules (see e.g., PRIVACY AND SECURITY PRINCIPLES FOR FARM DATA, spearheaded by the American Farm Bureau Federation). And still some have thrown up their hands, almost in dismay, and said these disputes will simply have to be resolved in the courts.

Yet, if one starts with the assumption that farm-generated data is an asset and, therefore, a type of property, it becomes apparent that there is a third alternative: careful contracting. I’m not just referring to the agreements entered into by precision ag companies. Rather, all parties along the field to fork chain should give careful consideration to whether farm data likely will be generated at some point in the process and, if so, who is entitled to own the data and what data protection obligations exist by virtue of this control. The concerned parties include:

  • Farmers
  • Organic ingredients providers
  • Farm machinery companies
  • Telematics companies
  • Seed companies
  • Software developers and service providers
  • Other Farm Technology Innovators (the “internet of things”, such as Google Glasses)
  • Precision ag service companies/crop consultants
  • Retailers/co-ops
  • Data co-ops
  • Crop insurance providers
  • Lenders/land valuations
  • Food manufacturers
  • Food sales


Continue Reading Agree to Agree: Data Ownership, Protection and Precision Ag (Part 1)

On February 15, 2015, the Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) issued its long awaited proposed rules on the domestic use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (“UAS”).  The 196 page document proposes rules to address only UAS weighing less than 55 lbs (including attached camera weight, etc.).

As discussed in more detail in our firm’s UAS Team Blog, the proposals provide a less restrictive framework than many expected.  Importantly, the rules are merely proposals and are open to public comment for a sixty (60) day period.

Notably, recent Section 333 exemptions were granted to applicants who uniformly included the voluntary commitment to utilize licensed pilots as operators.  Many expected at least a private pilot licensed operator to be a threshold requirement and many feared a commercial pilot license requirement.  Possibly recognizing the current and future use of UAS by non-pilot enthusiasts, the FAA proposed a new framework allowing for anyone to become an authorized operator so long as he/she is at least 17 years old, passes an aeronautical knowledge test given at a FAA testing center and is vetted by the Transportation Safety Administration (“TSA”).

A few additional proposed rules of interest include daylight only and visual line of sight operation at or below 500 feet.  Importantly, no airworthiness certificate will be required for UAS models weighing less than the 55 pound limit opening the door for use of UAS models currently on and coming to the market.  Finally, the UAS may not be operated over any persons “not directly involved in the operation” unless it qualifies as a MicroUAS which is one weighing 4.4 pounds or less which is itself a category for which the FAA has not yet proposed rules.
Continue Reading Precision Ag Update – FAA Releases Proposed Rulemaking For UAS

The 2014 Ag Innovation Showcase organized by the Larta Institute took place on September 9th and 10th and drew another big crowd this year.

The event kicked off with an evening cocktail reception at the Cortex facility hosted by Platinum Sponsor Husch Blackwell LLP.  The reception took place just outside Husch Blackwell’s Cortex

Husch Blackwell had a team of agriculturally-focused lawyers in attendance at the InfoAg conference hosted by the International Plant Nutrition Institute at Union Station in St. Louis from July 29-31, 2014. With over 1,400 registered for the conference, the three day program included discussions and presentations in various ballrooms that attracted sometimes standing room only

Earlier this week, two of Husch Blackwell’s UAS team members, Matt Grant and Tom Gemmell, attended the inaugural Delta AgTech Symposium sponsored by Entira with support from the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), which took place at the Agricenter International complex in Memphis, Tennessee.

The Symposium offered an early glance