In the 1930’s most Americans who lived in a town of any size had access to electricity. However, only 10% of rural America had electricity. Our grandfathers knew that they needed electricity to be competitive and to have the new conveniences which could simplify many mundane tasks. The cost to bring that service to rural America versus the revenue in sparsely populated areas kept these services off the farm. So, farmers joined together from rural areas and started the electric cooperatives and eventually the telephone cooperatives to bring these utilities to their farms across North America to keep themselves competitive. Times are calling for the next wave as now we must be competitive in a global marketplace. The tractor remains, but the ox and mule are gone and replaced with farming equipment that is autosteered by GPS. This same equipment is now more sophisticated than the original space shuttle, and the onboard technology streams vast amounts of data into the cloud. These capabilities now have a few years on the farm, but the truth is that an end to end view of the farm is still opaque because farmers have yet to find a lot of tangible value in their farm data. There are many parties at fault, but instead of pointing fingers we must realize the answer lies in creating the grower centric eco-system.
The cooperative business model used to bring utilities to rural America is designed to accomplish this task. The grower centric eco-system expressed in the creation of Grower Information Services Cooperative (GiSC) is the only grower-owned agricultural data cooperative in the world. GiSC sprang from the conclusion that the “disconnect” between current information collection and distribution practices and the digital possibilities was (and continues to be) a business organizational problem rather than a technology problem. Unlike the data captured and communicated on typical technology and information platforms for consumers, such as social media platforms, farm operation data is intellectual property – the farmer’s trade secrets and “know-how.” Farmers’ are hesitant (and rightfully so) to entrust that data with third parties in which those farmers have no vested interest.
GiSC can provide the comfort level to solve shared problems around data for growers. It is helpful that almost all farmers, regardless of crop produced, collect and utilize the same data. Data collection in ag is defined in terms of farms, fields, seed varieties, acres, irrigation type, fertilizer, yield, and more. GiSC, as a technology/business platform, provides its farmer-members what no other platform can: real control over their Intellectual Property, their farm operation data. By offering a secure data platform service (an integrated system of technology tools and applications built by GiSC and its Partners) to its members, GiSC can provide the obvious benefits of digitalization to an industry that finds itself outpaced by most other industries in information technology adoption, while at the same time protecting farmers’ interest in their data. A cooperative is owned by its members. Farmers, by owning the service that provides the digital platform to capture, collect, and store operational data, are afforded two valuable and distinct advantages:
- Control – Through the data governance provided by GiSC (its members and board of directors) and GiSC’s primary value proposition: growers own all the data that originates on their operations or from their operations’ activities.
- Value – GiSC is uniquely positioned to return value back to its farmer-members for their willingness to include their data in the Coop’s digital platform, whether in the form of operational benchmarks and insights, advanced data analytics, curated software capabilities and/or member patronage.
In summary, GiSC is a cooperative for all geographies, commodities and demographics. GISC is a Collaboration Platform. Through the cooperative, growers are given the ability to aggregate their data and align themselves to collaborate with strategic technology partners to further improve their farming operations and have access to products and services that are grower centric in their design and value creation. Farmers also have the benefit from emerging data science without a bias to specific input providers. In addition, it is our belief that growers will develop “collaborative peer groups” to cultivate best practices among GiSC members that will mirror the leading practices in other industries. We think it is the best model to create the most value for the grower, and GiSC is a grower centric eco-system.
Review the benefits, consider the partnerships GiSC has created, and join today in moving forward to a world where GiSC can be the vanguard of our relationship with data as a group, but where each farmer is given the ability and right to participate at his or her discretion.