Myth Busters : How Farm Market iD’s data is different from the “other” guys.

By | 2018-03-02T20:48:09+00:00 May 24th, 2017|News|

I regularly get the question of how our data is different from other providers of Farm and Farmer data.  As a CEO, I have always held firmly to the principle of not denigrating the competition and focus on selling our capabilities rather than disparaging the capabilities of others.  As a company, we are very transparent on how we produce our data and services and are our own best critics.  In fact, I welcome the debate and competition as this industry needs more data, data providers, data scientists, and folks that are passionate about how data can revolutionize this industry.

I also hear over and over from customers that in conversations with other providers of farm and farmer data that “we have everything that Farm Market iD has.” So, I want to go on the record and describe the differences and let the market decide what provider/data is appropriate for their business.  For those that want a quick answer, the key differences are:

  • Other providers are using 2008 data and projecting forward over 8 years (a lot has changed)
  • Other providers cannot provide insights down to the farm field level

For a more comprehensive understanding, it is important to understand the history and current state of data available from the USDA.

History and Current State of USDA Data

Today, data that is available from the USDA is limited as some of the insightful data such as crops, acres and role on farm has been redacted since 2009.  So essentially, if a FOIA request is made you would receive name, address, and payment amount for the farm program requested.  This would tell you that this person has some type of involvement in farming, though it may be indirect or passive.  For example, they could be a landowner receiving payments or could be a relative that was assigned payments for tax reasons and has no active involvement in farming.  In the good ol’ days, the Farm Services Administration would provide name, address, crop and acres for each field and a producer code indicating their role in the farm.

Another very important historical event was when Farm Market iD successfully sued the federal government to release various databases as part of its compliance files, which is more commonly known as the CLU (Common Land Unit) database fully connected to the operators and owners of the land, the geospatial field boundaries of the fields and its farm and farmer history.  Farm Market iD won the case on appeal and the data was then “releasable.”Very soon after, the FSA released the data connected to Farm Market iD’s current requests.  Approximately 8 weeks after, the court decision language was added to the Farm Bill to prohibit future release of this data thereby shutting the door on this source.  So, this coupled with the decisions to redact some of the key information traditionally provided under FOIA requests changed the landscape.

Other Guys
(Typically Publishers)
Method FMiD has a proprietary database of growers and land boundaries with linkages which allow continual updating of crop, acres and land association. This data coupled with extensive sourcing of public and private sector data including over 100 disparate sources allow us to maintain the most in depth, accurate and comprehensive of database of farms, farming and farmers in the U.S. Majority of grower data comes from 2009 data from FSA and makes assumptions (rolls forward) on what this looks like today. • Since 2009 under FOIA (Freedom of Information Act), FSA only provides name, address and amount of payment for the recipients of government farm program payments.

• Recipients may not be directly involved in farming or farm decisions as payments can be assigned to other non-farming entities.

• Publishers may tout their subscription and survey data as a method of updating but this is often limited to a small % of farmers and is limited in both depth and accuracy.

• Farmers respond incorrectly & imprecisely.

Grower Data
Breadth We cover over 95% of farmers and production in the U.S. 184 trillion data points Should have the majority of names but no updated view of acreage, crops, etc. Our 184 trillion data points link fields to fields, fields to growers, growers to growers, growers to owners, etc.
Depth Detailed to the field level covering 1.9 active farmers, over 300 million crop acres, 24 million farm fields and over $294 Billion in annual Gross Farm Income (GFI) No field level and no individual attribution FMID’s data includes active directory assistance phone #s on 70% of records and emails on about 40%. We can provide demographics like age and gender and a more than 20 year growing history.
Accuracy Cross referenced, confirmed and compiled from 100+ transactions data sources. BPA audited. Accuracy is going to be low. Our analysis shows the accuracy rate of key attributes like crops/acres, if available with competitors, would be slightly less than ½.
Field /Crop Data/Geospatial
Breadth 24 million farm field boundaries covering 300 million crop acres and over 94% of all commercial farm production Do not have; proprietary and exclusive to FMID Comprehensive nationwide footprint allows unique applications like market share, distance to distribution and processes and mapping.
Depth Over 164 crop demographics and various GIS overlays including weather, soils, watershed, etc. Do not have; proprietary and exclusive to FMID Geospatial field boundaries allow referencing and connecting to any GIS data sources.
Accuracy Accuracy rate has been independently confirmed in the mid 90s %. Not applicable

Today, Farm Market iD is the only company that has the ability to provide deep farm and farmer insights based on current information.  We build our data from the ground up (excuse the pun) starting with the 900 million land acres, 184 trillion data points including geospatial field boundaries for including over 300 million farm acres.  We then populate these boundaries with crops at ¼ acre increments using a combination of county level data requests and remote sensed data.  The geospatial boundaries are connected to individuals and entities thus allowing us to summarize crops and acres to the farm operation and ownership level.  We also compile and analyze land ownership records and operational data which allows us to determine the individual or entity’s role on the farm field.  We can  also accurately estimate annual gross farm income (GFI) using this data coupled with yield and price data.  Additional data is brought in to enhance, confirm and update the database including phone company directory assistance data, email data, consumer demographics, etc.  It is a Big Data exercise enacted by Big Data scientists.  Our company has been working in big data (1970s) longer than it was termed big data and we have a highly experienced team that is adept of data science, analytics, etc.