Wilmar Letter to Growers – Information Release


We have received a number queries from growers in relation to letter recently received from Wilmar seeking permission in terms of the Privacy Act 1998 for release of information to research organisations, BPS and SRA. KCGOL has sought clarification from these organisations as to the reasons and purpose for this information to be provided. The following additional information is now provided.

BPS have indicated that this is not a new data request, they have had access to this information for a number of years, however it would appear Wilmar has undertaken a review of its privacy obligations and this letter was a recommendation outcome. Data is utilised by both BPS and SRA to assist members and provide data for extension services.

Some specific examples of how BPS uses this data follows:

  • Produce productivity reports for distribution to its members – BPS split variety x soil type x crop class x productivity group and provide this to its members.  Many members also request their position within the group (ie: where they stand in terms of CCS, tonnes cane and tonnes sugar/ha, $returns/ha) – so BPS produce a grower report that has no identification for general distribution to that productivity group.
  • Access individual data for trials – this year BPS has around 45-50 trials to harvest and it is far easier not to inconvenience individual growers for access to their login or data after BPS has harvested the trial, but rather access it themselves and present grower with the completed data set.  Often BPS need to check surrounding blocks to ensure there have not been any consignment errors. These trials are on all aspects of the farming system including varieties, nutrition, farming systems, irrigation, crop ripening, legume and fallow management, nematodes and harvesting.
  • Individual extension advice – growers contact BPS to look at their productivity trends over time, and ask for advice on how they are tracking in terms of their performance relative to their productivity group or the district or mill area.  From there, BPS can look at their farming practices and provide specific advice – particularly around variety performance and mix where they access to this data.
  • Using real data to provide advice and not rely on headland talk. BPS have utilised data access to refute some untrue rumours getting around about variety performance.
  • Provide data for BPS annual reports as a record of productivity group and variety and district performance yearly.
  • BMP – assist growers to provide evidence of time of harvest and crop performance (used for nutrient management planning as well).
  • Productivity awards.
  • Consignment errors – BPS filter the data to check for accuracy when generating productivity reports and awards. BPS go through individual block data to ensure accuracy, and compare areas with maps.
  • Biosecurity – if there was a biosecurity issue with a particular variety (eg Q189 and leaf scald around 14 years ago), it allows BPS to respond to industry issues more efficiently if they have access to these blocks
  • Variety plans – BPS can assist members through development of variety management plans, they need to consider variety performance on their farm, along with variety mix and compare this to their productivity group and soil type to provide the most accurate advice.

BPS takes member privacy very seriously, data has limited access within BPS and is not used for purposes beyond providing extension services and accurate data to its members.  BPS data licence agreement with Wilmar does not allow them to share individual data with any other body.  As part of that agreement, BPS also receive the map layer from Wilmar, which is used to collect all their ‘crop data’ that field officers collect annually on pest and disease incursion within the district.

At the time of writing SRA has acknowledged our email but is yet to provide clarification/further context on data requirements.

Should growers not wish for their farming information to be divulged by Wilmar to BPS and/or SRA you have 30 days from date of letter to inform Wilmar accordingly in writing. Alternatively you may wish to contact this office whereby KCGOL will forward a bulk email on behalf of those members who do not wish their information to be provided.