NFU Scotland to reopen considerations into digital grain passports

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NFU Scotland is consulting members on the potential introduction of a digital grain passport (DPG) to accompany grain movements, similar to that already in place for combinable crops.

The original DPG proposal was met with concerns from NFUS over value for money, complexity and increased future costs, despite the Union’s Combinable Crops committee seeing potential in the concept.

Vice president Andrew Connon, who sits on the DGP development group said the proposal was shelved until a “clear business case” for their introduction could be made that would stop the concept becoming a “monster”.

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Stakeholders including NFU and the Agricultural Industries Confederation (AIC) have shown willingness to create a DGP, and now the union are approaching their wider members about its possibility.

Mr Connon explained: “The business case is now out for consultation and merits careful consideration to identify if the concerns expressed by our membership a year ago have been addressed.

“There is no doubt that technology is the way ahead for our industry, but technology needs to be proven to have a genuine benefit for our growers and in the case of DGP it will need to satisfy the six key criteria that NFUS originally highlighted.”

These proposed criteria, stemming from the initial criticisms, include accessibility, efficiency, being fit for purpose, proportionate costs to benefits, and issues surrounding data storage and say of direction from the industry.

Mr Connon also outlined some other requirements: “In addition, the grain trade needs to decide what it wants, as there are still mixed messages coming from the suppliers and merchants, with some in favour and others staunchly against the idea.

“The haulage industry also has a range of opinions. Some haulage businesses are already using the latest tech in running their fleets whilst others have yet to embrace the new technology that would be associated with the introduction of DGP.

“The next few months will see much debate on the subject and the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) Sector Council will, at the end of the consultation, decide on whether to proceed with DGP development. In the meantime, we will fully consult with our members and submit our views in February.”

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