Interview with Ruth Fennel from Ireland – Data Privacy

In this episode of FAIRshare talks we went to Dungarvan in Ireland to talk with Ruth Fennell, a Dairy Advisor at Teagasc. Teagasc is a state agency that provides research, advisory and education in agriculture, horticulture, food, and rural development in Ireland. Ruth, a professional with 23 years of experience, told us that the biggest challenge she faces in her work as an advisor was the protection of the farmer client’s data privacy.

So, what can we do to protect our client’s private information? Ruth told us that in Teagasc they use a software to scan documents like farm maps, statements of payment and application forms, from the printer directly to the adviser’s own computer.  The software generates a file with the name of the farmer instead of generating a random filename. This assures that the client’s information always goes to the right place, to the computer of their respective advisor.

But that’s not all we can do to protect farmers’ personal data. Ruth also told us that when sharing farm level data with a discussion group, in Teagasc they use the last three digits of farmers’ herd or flock number. This means each farmer can see how farms in their area are performing and benchmark their farm in relation to the group, while also protecting their data privacy.

Ruth also makes sure to delete any other farm features that would make it possible to identify individual farms such as number of cows in the herd, among others. These solutions can be implemented with the assistance of clerical staff, and can be easily applied to data generated by many different types of digital advisory tools or services (DATS), such as Herdplus to generate milk or animal performance data or the Teagasc profit monitor for financial reports. Easy steps that will build a relation of trust between farmer’s and advisors!
Learn more on FAIRshare DATS inventory.