AgGateway Staff

View From the Top: AgGateway’s New Leadership Tandem Share Thoughts on the Year Ahead

By Paul Schrimpf, Director of Marketing and Communications

The new year brought with it new leadership at the top for AgGateway, as Brent Kemp ascended to President and CEO from his former role as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, and Jeremy Wilson was hired to fill Brent’s open position in the organization.

Both have extensive experience working with AgGateway and have seen it grow and mature from multiple perspectives, including grower, retailer, trusted adviser, and member company. This unique combination of talent and experience is poised to lead AgGateway as an enabling driver of value-rich interoperability in ag technology.

In this article, Brent and Jeremy share their perspectives and reflections on their new roles and aspirations for AgGateway:

Why are you excited about the opportunity to lead AgGateway?

Brent: There are many data standardization and connectivity initiatives we have successfully executed through the efforts of the members, volunteers, and staff of AgGateway over nearly two decades. And while they have provided many benefits to the value chain along the way, the potential to make a more substantial impact in the years ahead is off the charts.

So many of the challenges we are seeing in the industry, from carbon sequestration programs and sustainability initiatives to maximizing the value of data collection for farmers, ag retailers, and manufacturers can only be successfully addressed by implementing standards-based connectivity, which is precisely where we ‘live.’ And it’s not just the traditional crop production channel – AgGateway has forged relationships with downstream, post-farmgate organizations and regulatory agencies to ensure that these current and future partners recognize and utilize the groundwork we have laid.

Issues like data portability, data authentication, and others continue to be significant challenges we face, and I am thrilled to be heading up an organization that has a seat at the table, and that can play a key role in solving those challenges.

Jeremy: This year is already shaping up as a watershed moment for machine and data compatibility in agriculture. We see a ton of opportunities for AgGateway to assist the entire industry to capitalize on the mountains of data that has been collected over the past few years. The need for data interoperability at all levels of our industry is more critical now than ever to fuel the automation coming to the farmgate.

For more than a decade as a volunteer and Board member, I was able to participate in Working Groups and programs coordinated through AgGateway aimed at helping members deliver more value and better service to customers and trading partners. This leadership role will give me opportunities to engage with staff, members, and interoperability stakeholders in a more direct way, and I’m really excited to get started.

The reality is, when you look through the eyes of an ag retailer down to the grower, there is such a volume of data that cuts through so many different sources that have to be brought together into a single solution before it can even begin to deliver value. There is a lot of work that has to be done to streamline the process.

How is AgGateway positioned to help move the needle on interoperability and adoption of standards?

Brent: We are in an incredible position right now, because we have done so much work over the years to hammer out difficult decisions that come with standards development and interoperability, from aligning industry terminology to fostering connections through tools like AgGateway’s ADAPT. A lot of this work can be repackaged to provide the specific data points that our members, as well as downstream companies implementing carbon and sustainability programs, are asking for.

We have some great ideas that have come forward from our members and what they want to see, whether it’s establishing field identification or expanding the availability of the AgGateway ADAPT toolkit to outside resources. Putting an API wrapper around ADAPT makes it more than just a data translator, but now it can actually exchange data messages and send data places and add more value to it.

It's critical that we continually work with our members and our volunteers to understand where they find value, and to discern the aspects of data that still need to be filled in. We recently held discussions about a member-driven suggestion to create a new group to focus on implementation and activity. Initiatives like this engage our members, bring in new volunteers, and reenergize our existing volunteers. And, it allow us to go out to the industry at large and grow membership.

Jeremy: I agree with everything Brent has said here. And I would add that a goal for AgGateway will be to create a more complete documentation of those organizations that have employed an AgGateway tool to enable interoperability and connectivity. Because our offerings are open source, we’re not aware of each specific application of a tool – this is what makes what we do so powerful. But it also means that we don’t have the full scope of benefit that AgGateway is providing.

We want to be able to celebrate organizations that have embraced interoperability – to point to them as companies that are progressive in their approach to delivering value and functionality to the crop production channel, and that should be considered preferred trading partners.