The new EU’s Data Act and the agricultural data space

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The European Data Act has entered into force in January 2024 and will become applicable in September 2025. The process of developing the Data Act started in June 2021 as part of the European strategy for data aimed at transforming data into an economic and societal growth engine by fostering innovation, enhancing public services, and ensuring Europe’s competitiveness and data sovereignty. The Data Act complements the Data Governance Act, applicable since September 2023, and introduces cross-sectoral principles and guidelines for harmonizing fair data access and usage. Although proposing a flexible, overarching legal framework, the Data Act indicates the possibility of sector-specific regulations. This would be the case for agriculture and agricultural data (ag-data), as there are unique needs and objectives to address.

“The Data Act is a comprehensive initiative to address the challenges and unleash the opportunities presented by data in the European Union, emphasising fair access and user rights, while ensuring the protection of personal data.”

https://digital-strategy.ec.europa.eu/en/policies/data-act

The Data Act adopts a general “user-centric” approach, where it is the user who can enforce the right to share “data generated by the use of products or related services”. Some ag-data might not fit the definitions of “generated by the use of products or related services”, and in the example case of data generated by machinery rented, bought second-hand or owned by several users, the issue of data availability linked to the usage of such machinery becomes relevant. Not only different users would then have the same access right to data generated on someone else’s farm, but there would be the risk of disrupting the continuity and utility of historical and operational data in the event of user changes. A “farm-centric” approach would then be more suitable, ensuring for example the permanence of historical data linked to the farm rather than to its owners or to the machinery operating on it.

In general, the Data Act follows the European principle to stimulate data-driven innovation and fair competition, eliminating the barriers caused by exclusive data ownership by few big players. It is already expected, as written it the Data Act text itself, that sector specific guidelines will integrate the horizontal framework defined in the cross-sectoral regulations. As we develop CinSOIL data-driven innovations, we closely follow the new regulations set forth by the Data Act, believing in the power of equitable data access. This commitment ensures every farm’s story is told through its data, leveling the playing field for all in the agricultural sector.

Resources:
Download the official Data Act Factsheet in different languages here.
Read about the specific challenges for ag-data and how the Data Act impacts on them in this publication.

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