"Recent media and industry reports have employed the term big data as a key to the future of increased food production and sustainable agriculture. A recent hearing on the private elements of big data in agriculture suggests that Congress too is interested in potential opportunities and challenges big data may hold. While there appears to be great interest, the subject of big data is complex and often misunderstood, especially within the context of agriculture. […] Big data may significantly affect many aspects of the agricultural industry, although the full extent and nature of its eventual impacts remain uncertain. Many observers predict that the growth of big data will bring positive benefits through enhanced production, resource efficiency, and improved adaptation to climate change. While lauded for its potentially revolutionary applications, big data is not without issues. From a policy perspective, issues related to big data involve nearly every stage of its existence, including its collection (how it is captured), management (how it is stored and managed), and use (how it is analyzed and used). It is still unclear how big data will progress within agriculture due to technical and policy challenges, such as privacy and security, for producers and policymakers. As Congress follows the issue a number of questions may arise, including a principal one--what is the federal role?"
CRS Report for Congress, R44331
Federation of American Scientists: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/index.html